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投资理财

不买Facebook股票的理由

Cyrus Sanati 2012年05月21日

许多明智的投资者都将Facebook的首次公开募股作为卖出的绝佳机会,他们的理由非常充分。虽然Facebook的股价会出现上扬,但公司要想维持这样的天价估值,需要克服许多困难,而且几乎是不可能完成的任务。

    预计Facebook可能在今天将上市,股价可能达到招股要约的上限,定为每股38美元。(最新消息证实的确如此)。届时,公司的市值将达到1,040亿美元,是其最大的在线广告竞争对手谷歌公司(Google)当前市值的一半左右。鉴于这家社交媒体大型公司在流行文化领域的地位,离谱的高估值一直都在人们的预料之中,但1,040亿美元的估值依然是个疯狂的数字。公司未来的盈利潜力并不稳定,其唯一的产品似乎也已经接近成熟。Facebook进行IPO的目的并非为了募集资金开发更优异的产品,而是为了在市值最高时套现。因此,投资者应该谨慎选择。

    Facebook的发行文件及其长约30分钟的视频演示听起来“感觉良好”,但实际上都重当前轻未来。比如在视频中,“未来”部分只有几分钟,而且公司对于未来的盈利和发展规划含糊其辞。虽然他们也表示,将手机平台货币化是Facebook发展的关键,但请注意,面对问题,他们除了“烧钱”,希望得到好的结果之外,并没有清晰的思路。

    公司资金的一大部分将源自周五IPO所募得的184亿美元,但条件是公司出售所有超额配售权。不过,IPO募得的资金中,大部分并没有进入Facebook的户头,而是流进了早期风险投资机构的腰包。多年以来,早期风险投资机构一直在请求、甚至乞求马克•扎克伯格将公司上市。

    昨天,就在公司上市前一分钟,笔者了解到,Facebook几个最大的风险投资机构纷纷决定增加出售股票的比例。周三公布的资料显示,可用于IPO的股份数量从3.374亿股增加到4.312亿股,增加了25%。其中老虎环球基金(Tiger Global Management)从最初出售300万股增加到2,300万股,而高盛(Goldman Sachs)则从出售1,320万股增加到2,870万股,成为变化最大的两家著名风险投资机构。Facebook的早期投资者不仅谋求套现,而且希望立刻脱身。这可不是什么好消息。

    但这又能怨谁呢?公司股价已经达到如此高度,此时还不抽身,除非他们脑子有问题。如果Facebook的估值最终达到1,040亿美元,则其交易价值将是2011年营业收入的28倍,而市盈率达到104倍。这意味着,公司盈利在近期需要出现抛物线式增长。而这几乎是不可能完成的任务。

    比如,与谷歌公司对比。目前,谷歌是互联网广告领域的王者,或许也是Facebook最大的竞争对手。2004年,谷歌上市时,其估值是往绩营收的16倍,往绩市盈率为218倍。之后,谷歌强势增长证明了公司估值合理,而Facebook高达104倍的市盈率则意味着,投资者相信,这家公司的增长速度将达到当年谷歌增长速度的一半。目前,谷歌的市盈率为18倍,这表示,在近期,Facebook要拥有谷歌五倍左右的增长潜力。

    Facebook will probably price today at the top of its offer range at $38 a share. (Update: That's exactly what happened.) That would value the company at around $104 billion – roughly half the current value of its biggest rival in the online ad space, Google. While a lofty and unjustifiably high valuation for the social media giant had been expected given its position in popular culture, a $104 billion valuation is borderline bonkers. The company's future earnings potential is shaky and its only real product appears to be close to maturity. Facebook's IPO isn't about raising money to nurture an amazing product -- it's about cashing out at the peak. Investors should "like" with caution.

    Facebook's offering documents and its 30-minute "feel-good" video presentation is heavy on the present and light on the future. In the video, for example, the section labeled "The Future" lasts only a couple of minutes and the company is vague about how they plan to grow it profitably. They rightly say that monetizing its mobile platform is the key to Facebook's growth, but also note that they have pretty much no idea what to do about it except throw a bunch of money at the problem and hope something great happens.

    A good chunk of that money will come from the $18.4 billion in proceeds Facebook could raise in the IPO on Friday, provided that the whole overallotment is sold. But the majority of the cash raised won't be going to Facebook -- it goes to its early venture investors who have been begging and pleading with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, to take the company public for years now.

    Just yesterday, at what is basically the last minute for this offering, we learned that some of Facebook's biggest venture investors were putting up more of their shares for sale than originally planned. The updated filing on Wednesday saw the number of shares available for the IPO jump from 337.4 million to 431.2 million, a nearly 25% increase. The two most notable shifts came from Tiger Global Management, which went from selling 3 million shares to 23 million shares, and Goldman Sachs (GS), which went from selling 13.2 million to 28.7 million. These early investors in Facebook don't just want to cash out, they want to run away. That's not a good sign.

    But who could blame them? At such a high valuation they would be crazy not to get out now. If Facebook ends up valued at $104 billion, it would trade at 28 times its 2011 revenue and 104 times earnings. That implies that it will see parabolic growth in earnings in the near future. That seems highly unlikely.

    For comparison, let's look at Google (GOOG), which is currently the king of internet advertising and probably Facebook's biggest competitor. When it went public in 2004, Google was valued at 16 times its trailing revenue and 218 times its trailing earnings. At its implied valuation of 104 times earnings, that means investors today should believe that Facebook will grow at roughly half the rate that Google did when it first came out of the gates to justify its valuation. Google currently trades at 18 times earnings, which implies that Facebook should have roughly five times the growth potential than Google will have in the near future.

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