Wall Street has been awaiting Twittermas for longer than a week now, like a kid anxious for Santa.
Twittermas is bringing presents. Nice ones. At a price of $26/share, the IPO should fetch Twitter (TWTR) $1.8 billion. But that's for just 10% of the equity. Co-founder Evan Williams, who launched Blogger a decade ago, will become a billionaire. Another co-founder, Jack Dorsey, who has since helped found Square, should get a half-billion.
Now, is Twitter really worth more than Macy's (M) or Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBY)? Of course not. But that's not the point, my friend. The idea behind an IPO is to get as much as possible for the company selling the shares, and Goldman Sachs has run a clean, conservative road show, pushing all the buttons Wall Street likes to see pushed.
The idea is that the shares will leave the brokers who lined up early, like geeks outside a Mac store, and then go out to smaller investors at a premium. What happens after that is anyone's guess, and in some ways it doesn't matter, because the dealers will have all made their money by noon today.
According to the amended S-1 filed last month, Twitter brought in $422 million in the first nine months of the year, 106% ahead of last year's $205 million, and seems on-pace to approach $600 million, mostly from ads of various kinds. The cost of that revenue is listed at $154 million, just 36% of the total.
If there's an investment case for the stock, it's based on growth and margins. But even assuming it gets to that $600 million figure for the full year, which is doubtful, you're paying 30 times sales for that growth. It's just not an investor's price.
It's a speculator's price. What buyers hope is that this company can be another Tesla (TSLA), which started this year at less than $35 a share and is now trading - even after its recent fall -- at more than $150 a share.
Both Tesla and Twitter will have similar market caps this morning, with Tesla expecting twice Twitter's revenue, and a gross profit for the nine months of about $300 million, which is currently more-than consumed by selling and research expenses to leave a net loss.
Tesla stock owners are paying nine times its expected 2013 revenue, with no net income, while Twitter buyers are paying 30 times revenue with fat, fat margins. But both are really buying hope, and momentum, and the promise that someone out there will pay even more for their shares than they paid.
That's the classic definition of a bubble, the belief in a greater fool, and since the Great Recession we're all focused on them, watching them rise, waiting for them to pop. But in an active market there are always bubbles, bubbles rising, popping and falling, just like in a little kid's bathtub.
So traders are going to splash around today. The Tesla bubble may be thoroughly popped, the stock having fallen 14% yesterday for no reason other than a conservative outlook from management. If it has, it could quickly fall to about $60 a share, which would still be three times revenue and a fair price, given its market momentum.
I consider it likely that a lot of former Tesla players are going to pile into Twitter today, hoping for the same kind of pop. They'll be running around like kids high on sugar at a Christmas party, getting on Santa Goldman's knee, and counting their profits long before they become real, visions of Teslas dancing in their heads.
Meanwhile, we investors will watch them like bored parents sipping eggnog by the fire. After the boom will come the bust, and beyond that lie the fundamentals.
The Amazon.com (AMZN) bubble, the PriceLine (PCLN) bubble, the Apple (AAPL) bubble, and the Google (GOOG) bubble have all yielded investments anyone would be proud to own. The Facebook (FB) bubble, which popped on its first day, is also on its way to becoming an investment.
At some price, maybe not today's price but some price, I think Twitter and Tesla will do the same.
At the time of publication the author owns 20 shares of GOOG, 70 shares of AAPL and dreams of getting a Tesla for Christmas, although it's more likely he'll get a tie.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.