NEW YORK (Real Money) -- I have been listening and watching and reading for days now about how bad Alibaba (BABA) could be for the markets. I hear it is overvalued. I hear it is too hot. I hear that it will be too expensive, that it has opaque ownership and that this initial public offering is a sign of a top.
So I thought I would put this little primer of salient facts together about why, if you hate Facebook (FB) , Twitter (TWTR) , LinkedIn (LNKD) , Google (GOOGL) , Amazon (AMZN) , VIPshops (VIPS) and JD.com (JD) then you should love -- not hate -- Alibaba. So, without further ado, let me give you all the reasons you don't have to own it, don't have to get in on the deal and can go on your merry way without it.
Watch the video below to get Jim Cramer's take on Alibaba CEO Jack Ma:
1. First objection: This company, if it is valued at $80 a share, fully $10 above an already-jacked-up $60 initial-low-end starting point, is ridiculously overvalued. Actually, if you stack it up against almost every company I have mentioned above, you would find that it is cheap at $80 per share, maybe even ridiculously cheap vs. every one of those companies mentioned above, given its growth rate and profitability. I think if it can earn $2.50 a share -- something that's well within reason -- the stock has a price-to-earnings ratio of 32 even as the company has about 30% growth in revenue and earnings.
Facebook has a P/E of 38 with only a slightly faster growth rate. But Alibaba's margins on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are 58% vs. 49% for Facebook, according to Wedbush, which has the best-published numbers on the company.
The rest of the compares? Well forget it. Amazon sells at a P/E of 182 with 20% revenue growth and a 5% margin. People are thrilled to own that one. Twitter has faster growth, at 66%, but its shares sell at a P/E of 148 based on next year's earnings estimates, if it can earn anything. Tesla (TSLA) has 56% growth but 2.2% margins, and it sells at a P/E of 88. JD.com, with 48% growth and no earnings to speak of, sells at a P/E of 572, even though the company constitutes the most direct comparison as an e-retailer. LinkedIn has a similar 33% growth rate, but it has less than one-fifth of the gross margin and sells at a P/E of 83.
Only Baidu (BIDU) , the Chinese Google, can give Alibaba a run for the money, selling at a P/E of 25 earnings with 40% revenue growth and a 43% margin -- which is one of the reasons I like the stock so much. Google itself is very cheap on a P/E basis -- its P/E is 22 based on next year's earnings estimates -- but Google's revenue is growing at only 20% with 30% margins.
At $80, Alibaba has the best relative value and is certainly the cheapest of all the large-capitalization stocks that have the holy grail, 30% earnings and sales, that the big-money guys want so badly.
2. Second objection: The ownership is very convoluted with many hidden owners and an opaque structure. Sure, that's true. We know Jack Ma, the major domo of Alibaba, owns about 8% of the company and is selling some stock on the deal. Yahoo! (YHOO) has 22%. The rest? It's not all that clear. But does it matter? They all obviously have skin in the game, so I don't think that's as big an issue.
3. Third objection: Corporate governance. There is a very big board of 30-odd souls, and many of them are Chinese Communists. The Communist Party has the right to pretty much do what it wants, as it controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Chinese government. To which I say, so what? We've tolerated that with the very successful Baidu and JD.com deals. Why can't we tolerate it here?
5. Fifth objection: If the stock opens with a $180 billion valuation, or $80 a share, it's just too darned big. This is a recurrent theme. I don't get it. What does it matter? Let's say it opens at $90 a share. It is still priced similarly to Facebook, although it is more profitable and growing faster than Facebook. That's the direct comparison. Is there really another way to look at it? I can't think of one, unless you decide that Facebook is ridiculously overvalued, too. I find that a hard sell because, in truth, Facebook grows its top and bottom lines much, much more quickly than the average company does, and its stock certainly deserves a P/E of 38 with those superior growth characteristics. Facebook should earn about $2.75 per share in 2016. Alibaba should earn $3.25 in 2016. I say, "So what if they have similar market capitalization?"
6. Sixth objection: Alibaba has a funky relationship with Alipay, which gives Jack Ma a serious advantage, because although he owns it, he shares only 37% of the profit with Alibaba, and 30% of the e-commerce revenue comes from Alipay. OK, it's a risk. But hold it -- why doesn't Ma, who owns 8% of the company, unload much more than just 12 million shares? If he had intended to really take a much bigger percentage of Alibaba's profit for Alipay, why hasn't he dumped more?
7. Seventh objection? A lot more insiders will be able to sell stock on the deal than usual, and won't be locked up. Yes, the equivalent of about $8 billion in stock isn't locked up. I don't know how much will be sold. But if this is a $160 billion deal, and it will most likely be worth more than that, we are talking about a drop in the bucket.
8. Eighth objection: This is the market top, and you have to sell Alibaba, as well as all of the other stocks like it, because it is 2000 all over again. Here's one I can really help you with. In that window, there were 300 unprofitable companies that came public and disappeared. Alibaba is extremely profitable and arguably getting more so. These two eras are night and day. Only people who didn't bring a company public in that period and didn't trade then don't understand it -- which is just about everyone who complains about this stuff and makes the bogus comparisons.
9. Ninth objection: E-commerce will slow, and this could be a house of cards when it does. Only half of China is on the Internet, and that number is growing rapidly. Yet the bricks-and-mortar operations, naturally enemies, are a fraction of what they are per person in China vs. in the U.S. China is dramatically understored, and we are overstored. There's no real omnichannel in China, so the runway for Alibaba is the longest and best of any of the Internet companies that are publicly traded.
10. Last objection: The Chinese economy is slowing; what a miserable time to bring this. Actually, the export economy is slowing. The internal economy -- the retail economy -- is, if anything, growing faster, much faster than in the rest of the world. Anyway, if you went on Alibaba's site you would know that this is an international company with both wholesale and retail operations. You are basically able to access workers to build things to suit anywhere around the world. Sure, you don't know the exact quality, but once this company is discovered you might never buy retail again.
Try as I must to hate this deal like everyone else, I just can't. Neither can hundreds of the big institutions that heard Alibaba's roadshow and have been furiously selling other stocks in order to raise all the capital they need to buy this one. I hear there are more than 100 institutions that want $1 billion in stock, and that was well before the roadshow was complete. They aren't sellers after the deal. They are buyers, as they simply can't possibly get that much, given the clamoring. My final advice: If you get some, you can always flip it. And if you hate it, well, guess what? You don't have to buy it.
At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long FB, TWTR and GOOGL.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 8:15 a.m. EDT on Real Money on Sept. 18.