Meanwhile, expectations for Facebook have been huge. Despite a 24% pullback since late January, shares still trade at seven times 2014 consensus revenue estimates, and this is still a $60 billion market-cap company.
Now, there's no question that this is not a fly-by-night business with no prospects. There's $9.5 billion in cash and short-term investments on the books, and the company has delivered some solid margins. But high expectations and the inability to deliver the lofty growth expected by investors are the reasons that the stock is down 45% from its all-time high the very first day it traded, May 12, 2012.
Take the ugliest looking company, the "dog with fleas" of which little is expected. Compare it to the latest Wall Street growth darling. If the former can show some signs of life, a turnaround of sorts, its share price is somewhat likely to prosper. If the latter, with built-in high expectations can't deliver, watch out. That's why I'd still rather own Gannett than Facebook.
High, unachievable expectations can be dangerous to the wallets of unsuspecting investors. A company's products may seem cutting edge, but there's often a disconnect between price and value. On the flip side, "dogs with fleas" don't always turn around, but I'll save the "value trap" discussion for another day.At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @JonMHellerCFA This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.