Time To Hedge: 5 Stocks To Sell Short

by: Hedgephone

Stocks are looking pretty overbought and overvalued right now, and we think the time is right to start shorting some things that are the most egregiously pumped up on hope right now. The following 5 stocks trade at multiples only an investment banker could love, and we have some suggestions on how to play the short side here using options to limit your risk.

While we are long term bears on the dollar and certainly think the overall market will be higher in five or ten years than it is today, we also know that nothing moves straight up or straight down. Buying low and selling high means right now is the time to sell, not buy these 5 momentum stocks.

Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) -- Saleforce.com is trading at astronomical multiples of cash flows, earnings, and book values. Projections seem to be far too rosy when compared with current financial statements in our view and now may be the time to short this again. Cash flows are almost entirely generated through rising short term debt or increasing payables here and to us that is a huge red flag. Revenue growth without corresponding profit growth should be also be a red flag for most investors. The "cloud revolution" may not be as revolutionary as once imagined and even if it is, it looks to us like Microsoft, Google, and Oracle will be the bigger players in this arena.

All in all, we think shorting CRM here or buying put spreads makes a good deal of sense after the stock was recently awakened after a near coma last year when it lost some 40% of its value before regaining almost all of that lost ground. CRM looks more overvalued to us than most of the 1990's tech bubble stocks and we think a well timed short position in CRM will pay dividends over the next few months, especially if the overall equity markets correct to some degree. Always trade with stop loss orders, however, because the "markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent."

LinkedIn (LNKD) -- At 850X earnings, LinkedIn is a decent example of a stock that is priced beyond perfection. Sure, Facebook is going to be valued at some absurd multiple too, but that doesn't mean that LinkedIn also deserves such an overvalued multiple to earnings, book value, and cash flows. While LNKD certainly is a fantastic business, I think it's a $5 billion dollar enterprise and not a $10 billion dollar enterprise. I would look to sell the June or August $110 call options on LNKD as the shares are too expensive to short given the high interest rates charged by institutions lending out shares.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) -- At 150X earnings, investors are paying far too much for future growth in shares of Amazon. We think AMZN shares are trapped in a classic bubble that will pop sometime very soon. We advise selling bear call spreads against AMZN shares by purchasing the April $230 calls and selling the April $200 calls in the same amount. Like Salesforce, most of Amazon's cash flow is generated via rising short term liabilities and not things like earnings and depreciation.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) -- Chipotle shares have left many short sellers feeling dazed and confused. This is the ultimate "Montezuma's Revenge" stock because it never seems to go down and stay down. CMG shares are overvalued in our view at over 60X earnings, but the company has managed to blow away all of the skeptics for the last two years by delivering incredible growth. The fact that shares are this extended and expensive means that a near term correction could be coming and that selling a June $420 call option should yield a nice profit for hedgers and bearish traders looking to make some money off of the almighty burrito bubble.

Nasdaq 100 (NASDAQ:QQQ) -- The Nasdaq 100 is also overbought, overvalued, over-owned, and over-loved here and we think the recent "all or nothing" rally in the QQQ is overly optimistic. We think buying put spreads or selling bear call spreads makes sense, and we think Apple's rise to $600 happened a bit too quickly (Apple is the largest component of QQQ). At 24X earnings, the QQQ isn't insanely expensive, but it is overpriced and technically overbought enough to reward the bears in the short run. Look to buy the June $70 put options thanks to a low VIX for a small premium either as insurance against your longs, or as a speculative bet against the recent low volume rally.

Disclosure: I am short CMG, QQQ, CRM.