Saturday musings and then links to the rest of the Web.
I have almost gotten the money together to buy the full tranche of the new NS&I index linked certificates.
What a faff! Savings accounts that still take a week of working days to transfer your money – that’s surely unacceptable in 2011?
I’m also frustrated that the money I raised from selling a chunk of Halma shares is taking days to become available for withdrawal. This always happens with this particular broker, I presume because I bought the shares in a Sharebuilder account (like the one used for my new HYP) and it takes a while for it to corral my money from other investors’.
In his rollicking read How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis explains how even the super-wealthy struggle to get access to their assets in short order. I know how they feel.
Such issues seem prehistoric, however, in light of the $9 billion valuation given to LinkedIn, the business network that’s mainly used to see who got bored after you left your old job, or to check up on that PR hottie you met at a product launch.
Or is that just me?
Certainly such functionality can’t be worth the $100 per user the FT puts on the company, which notes:
LinkedIn’s rise in value has been extraordinarily rapid. Larry Allen, chief executive of private share network Nyppex, said that investors who had bought LinkedIn’s shares privately earned unusually large returns – as much as a multiple of 5.4 if they had bought the shares a year ago on private markets, when prices were $17.74 a share.
Valuing such companies is of course a black art. I was amused to see how Aswath Damodaran – a professor of finance in New York whose highbrow blog is often worth a read – managed to mislay half the issued share count when he first had a stab at valuation. He’s an expert in valuing growth companies!1
Damodaran eventually decided LinkedIn shares are fairly valued at around $21. They are currently priced at over $100 a share, after doubling on the first day of trading.
This gangbusters performance – and the scores of private technology companies waiting in the wings, including the mighty Facebook – has prompted a slew of articles suggesting Dotcom 2.0 is already upon us, and that by implication DotCom Crash 2.0 can’t be far behind.
The Independent writes:
For those old enough to remember the heady years of the late nineties – when many of today’s young technology entrepreneurs were still in short trousers – the stock market’s new-found fascination with social networking and all-things internet prompts a weary sense of déjà vu.
Even the US treasury secretary Larry Summers has given warning, says Bloomberg:
“Who could have imagined that the concern with respect to any American financial asset, just two years after the crisis, would be a bubble?” Summers, who is now a professor at Harvard University, said at a conference today in Shanghai. “Yet that concern is increasingly raised with respect to American technology, with respect to certain other American assets.”
Summers words have already bounced around the web, although tellingly what he said next is usually lopped off by bearish bloggers. He added:
“That is a reflection of the resumption of confidence.”
Indeed it is. The bearmania that has gripped investors for three years now (for obvious reasons!) means we’re still a long way from bubble conditions in my view. Back in the late-90s, every story reporting on this float would have been titled ‘How YOU can cash in on the next LinkedIn!’
It truly was a remarkable time, and anyone who lived through it is understandably twitchy that it could be upon us again. But one thing I’ve learned from the UK housing market is it takes a long time for bubbles to build.
Yes, as The Economist notes in my links below, that the Shiller P/E is signalling the US market is already over-valued. I expect growing earnings to bring down the ratio, however, not falling share prices. No guarantees of course, and the market is certainly much less of a bargain than a year ago. If you’ve been overweight in stocks it wouldn’t be a bad time to rebalance.
As for LinkedIn, I’m feeling in a heretical mood.
I wouldn’t buy the shares, but even at 600-odd times earnings and 25 times sales I can see a case for them. This is a unique company, and a profitable one. It’s earnings are growing remarkably fast, albeit it from a low base.
If you want to invest in, say, a mining company, there are literally thousands around the world to choose from. If you want to buy a social networking leader, LinkedIn is one of the very few. One sign of bubble conditions will be if or when we see nonsense like ‘the mobile social network for dentists’ being floated for hundreds of millions of dollars. There’s no sign so far.
Also, LinkedIn’s $9 billion valuation is a drop in the ocean of the market capitalisation: Google alone is priced at $170 billion.
I’m not saying LinkedIn necessarily has a great future, but I can understand why, in aggregate, investors are prepared to put a few chips on the square. We’re still a long way from being at risk of a second dotcom collapse, given we’ve not yet had the dotcom bubble.
Rather, I’d say this is 1997, in comparative terms, rather than 1999.
In terms of new paradigms, it’s commodities and emerging markets that are currently re-writing the history books. Many of the arguments to support their divergence from the mean sound plausible, but so did the tech stock promoters in the late 1990s.
As always, be aware, be diversified, and think long term.
Money and investing blogs
- Index investors can be aggressive, too [US fees cited] – Oblivious Investor
- Returns dominated by few stocks, and few months – Swedroe/Moneywatch
- Fat cats and the power of wealth – Simple Living in Suffolk
- What does ‘priced in’ mean in the stock market? – Amateur Asset Allocator
- Physical looks versus earnings – Stumbling & Mumbling
- Using Morningstar’s Instant X-Ray fund evaluation tool – The Portfolioist
- Amid the stock market crisis, staying the course worked well – Vanguard blog
- UK inflation: May update – Retirement Investing Today
- Beware of partisan articles and graphics about tax – Brendan Nyhan
- Exit the walrus, followed by equilibrium – The Psy-Fi blog
- Winter of content – A Grain of Salt
- Official: How to prepare for a zombie apocalypse – CDC
Mainstream media money
- How to make money in micro-seconds – London Review of Books
- The Schiller P/E says the US market is over-valued – The Economist
- Invest in land ‘scams’ revealed – BBC
- Can you identify star fund managers? – Motley Fool
- The (commercial property) boom that’s beaten the FTSE – Motley Fool
- Beat inflation with these high yield shares – Motley Fool
- Bank of England economist signals interest rate hike – FT
- (Very!) long-term investment in French apartments – FT
- How inflation is robbing your cash savings – FT
- Yet another call to invest in new NS&I certificates – Independent
- Plan to give bank shares to taxpayers – Independent
- UK investors pull funds out of emerging markets – Telegraph
- A generation of priced-out would-be UK homeowners – The Guardian
- Central, a new Central London freelancer’s HQ [started by a sometime Monevator reader!] – The Guardian
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- Damodaran’s mistake was to rely on online data, instead of going back to the company’s prospectus, which is a good reminder for any investor. [↩]