Sticking with the restaurant theme, for about the same amount, you could string together Darden ( DRI), Dunkin Brands ( DNKN), Panera ( PNRA) and Wendy's ( WEN), which have generated nearly $16 billion in trailing revenue, $825 million in net income, and a have a 1.48 price to sales ratio. Alternatively, for the same market cap, (and this is my favorite), you could put together Brinker ( EAT), Buffalo Wild Wings ( BWLD), Cracker Barrel ( CBRL), Cheesecake Factory ( CAKE), Texas Roadhouse ( TXRH), Jack in the Box ( JACK), Papa John's ( PZZA), Dine Equity ( DINE), Bob Evans ( BOBE), Red Robin ( RRGB), Sonic ( SONC) and AFC Enterprises ( AFCE).
Combined, this group generated $17.2 billion in revenue and $880 million in net income, and has a 1.32 price-to-sales ratio. Furthermore, after collecting a year's worth of distributions generated by the dividend payers in this group of companies, there would be enough cash ($240 million) to purchase Nathan's Famous ( NATH), theoretically that is. Admittedly, restaurants are not an apples-to-apples comparison to new-fangled social-media companies with high expected growth rates. But they may help to put Twitter's valuation into perspective. Analysts are expecting Twitter to generate $1.14 billion in revenue for 2014, which puts the forward price-to-sales ratio at a more respectable, but still very high 20, especially for a company that is not expected to be profitable until 2015.
Finally, I apologize for the recurring restaurant theme in this piece. I could have substituted other industries or companies in an attempt to make the same point, but it is day three of dieting, and I am hungry. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.Follow @JonMHellerCFAThis article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.