STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Twitter IPO Another Sign of Burning Market
By Staff News & Analysis - November 05, 2013

Twitter Raises IPO Price Range, Looks To Sell Shares For $23-$25 … Twitter's roadshow must be going pretty well. The social network has been pitching its forthcoming initial public offering to institutional investors over the last week-plus and raised the price range for the deal Monday morning according to an updated SEC filing. Twitter now aims to sell shares for between $23 and $25 apiece, up from an initial range of $17-$20, in a deal expected to make its debut this week. – Forbes

Dominant Social Theme: This is a grand time to be alive. It's 2000 all over again.

Free-Market Analysis: We remember the Internet IPO boom nearly 15 years ago and how it ended in tears for so many. Now we've got a new boom on our hands, apparently, if Facebook and Twitter provide us with accurate evidence of what's going on.

Of course, as indicated many times, we don't believe this Internet hysteria is a whole lot more warranted than in 2000. We've written a number of articles about Facebook, pointing out the business model basically involved stealing information from clients and reselling it.

No wonder Facebook is looking for growth in developing countries – we have a feeling that its core Western market is getting increasingly disenchanted with the technology and its implementation.

We're on record as pointing out that Facebook is a US Intel facility and the revelations of Edward Snowden have merely confirmed that supposition. The CIA was an early investor in Facebook and no doubt reaps the rewards in terms of intimate access to any Facebook customers it desires.

This is why we were not shocked by the high valuation of Facebook as an IPO. We believed US elites wanted to see a high valuation for Facebook to cement the company's reputation as a valuable commercial commodity. When the intelligence community is behind you, it is probably easier to make a corporate success on a number of levels.

And thus Facebook grows, even though by all rights it ought to shrink – at least in the US and probably Europe. It's simply a kind of electronic billboard, and when people have had enough of this kind of "social media" they tend to reject it, or at least reduce their exposure.

Facebook and Google are prime examples of how companies are massaged in a mercantilist fashion. It is a kind of virtuous circle in which people understand that these companies are blessed by the power elite and thus money flows into them, which if properly applied can add value or at least sustain momentum.

Is this also the case with Twitter? Well … there doesn't seem to be any overwhelming Intel significance for Twitter as there was with Facebook or Google but one thing Twitter does do is "justify the niche." If Twitter has a big-time IPO, then the Facebook IPO will look more "normal" and less like a staged event. Here's more on the current Twitter pricing from the Forbes article, above:

The company plans to sell 70 million shares, which would raise $1.7 billion at the midpoint of the price range. With just under 545 million shares outstanding after the offering, that price would give Twitter an initial market cap of just over $13 billion.

In a note last week, Morningstar MORN -0.06% analyst Rick Summer estimated Twitter's fair value at $26 per share, and that shares could climb to $50 in a bull case. Should the service "become ubiquitous like Facebook FB -3.08%, the investment case is unusually strong," Summer wrote in his report.

A more skeptical case on Twitter comes from Rapid Ratings, which issued a report last week saying the offering matched 92% of the characteristics of "Bubble-Era IPOs," a considerably higher figure than either Facebook or LinkedIn LNKD +1.74%.

"Twitter is an earlier-stage company than FB and LinkedIn," the report says. "In many ways, the Twitter IPO seems more reminiscent of the pre-2000 dot-com 'Bubble era' than other recent tech IPOs in 2012 and 2013."

This last comment makes sense to us. If you sort through articles on the Internet, you can come up with a variety of fairly discouraging assessments of the Twitter IPO. For instance, a new CNBC AP poll "shows that 49 percent do not think Twitter would be a good investment. Young people in particular see it as a bad move."

This is highly revealing because on the whole the mainstream media is not exposing viewers and readers to much negativity when it comes Twitter or the stock market in general. Here's more:

Twitter executives have spent weeks on Wall Street and in major U.S. cities touting the company's highly anticipated initial public offering, set to take place this week. But despite their best efforts to pitch the site's profit prospects in mobile, international growth and TV integration, investors are still skeptical, results from a new AP-CNBC poll show.

According to the poll, nearly half of active investors—those who had adjusted their holdings within the last year—say Twitter would not be a good investment. That sentiment is stronger from higher-income respondents; some 56 percent of those with incomes of $75,000 a year have doubts about its investment prospects.

It gets even worse:

Fifty-two percent of respondents 18-34 said they wouldn't put their money in it. Millennials seem to be wary of buying stocks in general. In a Wells Fargo survey of 1,500 adults aged 22 to 32, more than half said they were "not very" or "not at all" confident in the stock market as a place to invest their money.

As the games become clearer and the manipulations more evident, the kinds of marketplace promotions that took place in the 20th century may be more difficult to implement. Hence, the haste. And hence the large valuations. Who knows how many more parties Wall Street will have? But this one is setting up to be a big one indeed, and Twitter may be just the appetizer.

Like the "millennials," we're not overly enthusiastic about Twitter. But that's not the point. Central banks have poured some US$50 trillion into the markets from what we can tell and they're showing no signs of stopping. These are not normal markets but markets afloat on a sea of money-from-nothing.

After Thoughts

If we're clever about it, perhaps we can take advantage of what the big boys are offering. Maybe, Twitter is the opening shot. Maybe, then it's off to the races.

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