Facebook has gotten some good news lately, but not enough to shake the convictions of one guy we’ve been talking to about the stock throughout the long post-IPO deal.
As CEO of the stock analysis company PrivCo, Sam Hamadeh has been throwing cold water in the faces of Facebook investors since before the company went public.
His company specializes in initial public offerings, and he said a lot was wrong with this one. He even gave us seven reasons not to buy the stock during the height of the IPO hype Later, he told us analysts involved with IPOs are typically under pressure to tout the stock.
But more important, he said, the numbers just didn’t add up. And in the months after Facebook went public on May 18, he has appeared to be right.
Facebook started with a price of $38 per share, only to watch that number dip down to the teens.
But on Oct. 23 the company beat analysts’ expectations, and the price jumped from $19.50 to $24.01 overnight. So we had to wonder: Impressed yet, Hamadeh?
“I think it’s not as good as it seems,” he told me, pointing out that the stock has slid since then down to $22.10 on Friday.
And it should be lower still, he said. One way of analyzing a stock’s value is to look at its price to earnings ratio. That’s the market price of a share divided by the annual earnings per share.
“The price to earnings ratio should be the same as its annual growth rate,” he said. Normally the growth rate would be calculated based on earnings, but Facebook hasn’t turned a profit, so Hamadeh is using its revenues as a substitute. And those revenues have been increasing at an annual rate of 34%.
But Facebook’s price-to-earnings ratio was 232.58 when the market closed on Friday — almost seven times its growth rate.
In addition, Hamadeh noted, the company’s revenues overall may have gone up, but its payments business actually shrank in the fourth quarter. That’s the revenue from partners like Zynga. “That’s supposed to be an important business line for them,” said Hamadeh.
And, he pointed out, more stock will come available in November. Insiders, such as company executives, were forbidden from selling their shares until six months after the IPO. Now these shares may come onto the market, depressing prices.
The bottom line is that Facebook’s stock is still overpriced, said Hamadeh, mostly because many small investors have been dazzled by the excitement around the company.
“If it was any other company or you blocked out the name, you would get [a stock price] in the teens,” he said. “And eventually the smart money will value it appropriately.”
But not yet, apparently. The mean analyst price target on Yahoo! Finance for Facebook is $28.37.