Yahoo! May Be Rewarded for Its Gluttony

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Yahoo! ( YHOO) reported mixed earnings on Tuesday and lower guidance. This stock will be one to watch today.

In 2008, it was left to rot, attracting flies and short sellers after allowing Microsoft's ( MSFT) $31-per-share takeover bid to slip away.

Fast forward five years to July 2013, and Yahoo! is no longer the Beelzebub of Sunnyvale, Calif. Shareholders from L.A. to Ekron are sinfully feasting on the bounty resulting from new 52-week highs. Yahoo! is once again seated at the same table as online lords Google ( GOOG), Amazon ( AMZN), and Microsoft.

Yahoo!'s sizzling growth continues from a tailwind coming from China. Eight years ago, Yahoo! invested $1 billion in Alibaba. Last year, it sold half of that stake for $7.6 billion. That was the best investment made since $800 could buy 10% of Apple ( AAPL).

I examine Alibaba's growth and impact on Yahoo!'s market cap here and here. The CliffsNotes version places Alibaba's value at a minimum of $50 billion, and as high as $130 billion.

That's exciting news for Yahoo!'s shareholders because they own about 20% of Alibaba. Using back-of-the-envelope calculations, if Yahoo! is able to sell its the rest of its shares for $22 billion (there are rumors of an IPO possibly in the works), the market is grossly miscalculating the value of Yahoo! at only $7 billion.

I can't lie and say buying Yahoo! for less than $30 is as appetizing as buying 10% of Apple for $800, but if Yahoo! is really worth $60 and you can buy it for $30, it's time to back up the truck and get heavy. Keep in mind that these numbers are before adjusting for tax implications that are impossibly difficult to calculate for anyone without an office in the C-suite.

A $20 billion payday places Yahoo!'s cash-removed, adjusted forward price-to-earnings ratio at less than 4. In other words, if we remove the cash received from Alibaba's sale and adjust the share price proportionally (for example, assuming it was distributed as a special dividend) the remaining price for Yahoo!'s shares is less than four times earnings.

For investors, buying shares at the current price is the same as taking my sons Brenton, Michael, and William -- or "BMW, as I like to call my entourage -- to McDonald's ( MCD) and buying all the dollar menu items they want for 25 cents each. BMW's ravenous chicken nugget capacity could put the Happy Meal maker out of business faster than Ronald McDonald could update his resume.

BMW aren't the only ones with an enormous appetite. A year ago this week, one of Google's fallen angels embarked on her strategic scheme of online world domination. Yahoo!'s new CEO Marissa Mayer quickly demonstrated her gluttonous appetite for devouring companies.

Mayer began slow, enjoying Stamped and OnTheAir as appetizers. The acquisitions merely swelled her desire for more, and soon the $10 million Snip.it course was served, followed by a $30 million Summly dish. It wasn't enough, and in between courses, Mayer collected bite-sized companies including GoPollGo, Loki Studios and others.

The main course hadn't been served yet. It was the banquet Mayer just couldn't resist. She agonized over her true desire day and night while preparing to receive her $1.1 billion Tumblr indulgence. The gluttonous hunger didn't end there, and now Yahoo! owns 15 more companies than before Mayer's reign. In the first half of 2013, she bought more companies than any other entire year of Yahoo!'s history.

For shareholders, the stock certificates no longer attract flies, and a bright new excitement for potential is anew at Yahoo!.

At the time of publication, Weinstein had no positions in stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Robert Weinstein is an active trader focusing on the psychological importance of risk mitigation, emotion and financial behavior of market participants. Robert co-founded the investing blog StockSaints, where he writes a journal about his trading activity and experiences.

In addition to TheStreet, Robert also contributes to Real Money Pro, providing real-time trading ideas for stocks, options and futures.

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