This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Facebook IPO: Reality Check

Stocks in this article: GOOG

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

By Andy Obermueller

NEW YORK ( StreetAuthority) -- While the mainstream financial media chases every conceivable Facebook angle ahead of its initial public offering, which is expected sometime in May, it's important not to get lost in the frenzy.

About $5 billion worth of shares will be sold, though the deal values the entire enterprise at between $75 billion and $100 billion. Only a little more than two dozen U.S. companies have a market cap that size. Remember, all stock trades are ultimately a matter of valuation, and valuation is always a matter of perspective.

Perspective almost always needs to be checked, and that is certainly so with the level of hype that is surrounding this IPO.

So is Facebook's underlying business worth owning? To figure this out, I recommend keeping several things in mind.

1. You should be interested in "What's next." Facebook is "What's now."

Everyone already has a Facebook account. How much can it grow from here? That's not a rhetorical question: It's a quantifiable one.

Right now, Facebook's business generates revenue of $3.7 billion and nets 26.9%, or $1 billion. The company grew 77.8% from 2007 to 2008. In the next three years, it grew 185%, 154% and 89%, respectively.

The trend is clear: Facebook's growth is waning. The best comparison here is Google (GOOG), which had four strong years of growth in excess of 30% before growth waned. Facebook is at that point now.

Now, Google, it has to be said, grew into its valuation. It ended 2004 at $192.79 a share and shot up 235% to its current market cap, which works out to 19.6 times earnings. But it is unlikely that Facebook will be able to accomplish the same feat.

To be worth $100 billion in market cap, at 19.6 times earnings, Facebook needs to have $5.1 billion in earnings. At its current net earnings margin of 26.9%, that implies top-line revenue of $19.3 billion, which is 421.3% above 2011 levels. This means Facebook has to double revenue and earnings in 2012, then double it again in 2013, then start to have 30% annual growth. If it does that -- which would be an incredible business feat -- it would be worth the top end of its IPO price range.

1 of 4

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 17,672.60 -141.38 -0.79%
S&P 500 2,051.82 -11.33 -0.55%
NASDAQ 4,757.8790 +7.4820 0.16%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs