How Does Facebook Drum Up So Much Frothy Interest For Its Overpriced Shares? Help From The Media, Goldman, et. al.

Reggie Middleton's picture

I've had a few subscribers who, after reviewing the (subscriptiononly) FaceBook IPO & Valuation Note Update and Facebook Valuation Model, have seriously queried how Facebook is managing to drum up so much froth and interest for its obviously overpriced shares? The apparent answer is the marketing machine known as Goldman, et. al. The less recognized answer is assistance from the MSM, as demonstrted by this CNBC article - Facebook’s Premium Ad Prices Still Rising:

Pricing for Facebook’s premium “social” advertisements continues to rise, two recent studies have found—a positive indicator that could offset concerns about a dip in advertising growth and help sentiment towards the Internet company’s initial public offering.

This is a net positive statement, no?

A report to be released on Monday by Marin Software, a digital marketing platform that processes more than $100 million worth of spending on Facebook, found a 26 percent increase over the last year in the cost per click for “premium” ad formats such as Sponsored Stories, which highlight friends’ “likes”, comments and other endorsements of brands’ activity on the site.

Wow! That's pretty good growth and pricing elasticity, no? Bring on those newly public shares and let 'em rip!!!

However, Marin’s report also found the cost per click for Facebook’s standard ads, which make up an estimated three-quarters of the social network’s advertising revenues, fell 26 percent over the last year.

Wait a minute, if 75% of the companies product dropped in price, doesn't that easily swamp the 26% of the companies premium ads that rose in price? An even more direct questions is, why isn't this being reported as the net negative that is is? Let's walk though this step by step for the more arithmetically challenged amongst us...

 

   % of revenue  Increase/decrease in Average cost Net Change to Gross Revenue
Facebook Premium Ads 25% 26% 6.500%
Facebook Regular Ads 75% -26% -19.500%
      -13.000%

 

So, according to this MSM article, reporting a net 13% drop iin revenue somehow amounts to - and let me quote this so as to be as accurate as possible - "a positive indicator that could offset concerns about a dip in advertising growth and help sentiment towards the Internet company’s initial public offering". Please excuse me as I wipe the splattered bullshit from my computer screen - it's hard to type accurately with those opaque, stinking brown stains in the way. Even worse, it goes to show what portions of the MSM actually think in terms of the intellectual capacity of its readership.

Facebook will this week begin a roadshow to convince potential investors that its business is worth up to $96 billion in its initial public offering later this month.

So, slower subscriber growth...

Faster cost growth and lower profits - Facebook First-Quarter Profit Drops; Costs Almost Double, and a 13% drop in gross  ad pricing - virtually the sole source or revenue for Facebook, amount to a valuation for this company that at 99 Times Profit Exceeds 99% of S&P 500 Index. Hey, it gets better...

Marin’s report follows data published last month by TBG Digital, a digital advertising firm that buys Facebook ads on behalf of 235 companies in 190 countries, showing a 23 percent increase in cost per click for the first quarter of 2012 compared with the fourth quarter of 2011.

The cost of delivering an ad to 1,000 people increased 41 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter last year. However, click-through rates on ads—a key measure of effectiveness—fell an average of 6 percent across Facebook’s top five territories.

Advertisers’ desire to grab the attention of the social network’s 900 million users is still running ahead of their ability to measure the returns from that investment, which is seen as a key long-term challenge for the social network.

 Here's where I broke it down on Capital Account

I also happened to do the same on the Max Kesier show...

Subscribers who haven't refreshed their viewing of our Facebook research should do so now - (subscription only) FaceBook IPO & Valuation Note Update. Pro and instititional subscribers are welcome to peruse the downloadable Facebook Valuation Model, allowing you to input your own assumptions in the very unlikely event you may not agree 180% with me :-)

And from the archives...

Reggie_Middleton_Facebooks_Valuation

Facebook Finally Faces The Fact Of BoomBustBlog Analsysis

I discussed Facebook on the Peter Schiff radio show, the Facebook excerpt is below...

From my previous Facebook analysis public excerpt:

Yeah, I was on a roll last year, wasn't I? That's not the gist of it either, as we reminisce even more...

Here is an excerpt for those who do subscribe to our research and services, YET!

Even with the fund taking 45%+ losses and the LP (limited partners, ex. Goldman's clients) losing every last single dime, Goldman easily pulls a 33% return. God forbid Facebook share actually do well, Goldman's numbers look... Well... Damn near illegal! Almost as if they can pump up a price without any fundamental justification or public disclosure of financials and still sell it retail to the public. Of course, such a thing could and would never occur - not with the every vigilant SEC to take our backs. Excuse me while a cough a up a lung from laughter...

You see, this is the dirty little secret of private equity funds. They are not in the business of investing money for client's maximum risk adjusted return. They are in the business of collecting fees. Those poor innocent (or not so, particularly when they are investing their clients monies, hence are in the same business) souls that actually believe as the commenter above quoted "Wow!!! If Goldman is putting their money in this, it must be serious!"simply the lamb being led to the private equity/IPO slaughterhouse. You see, there is no loss to GS - no matter how high they bid up the valuation nor how hard it comes crashing down. This gives them the incentive to shoot for the sky with the private equity deal, because when the IPO breaks, its bonuses bigger than nearly any have ever seen. Facebook makes and excellent marketing story as well. Boy Wunderkind CEO, a product nearly everyone uses and loves, and a mysterious dearth  of business model to give it a mystical effect. Don't forget the involvement of the "cream of the crop" of Wall Street banks, whose bankers, traders and analysts are all so much smarter than us guys from Brooklyn. Add this up, and you get "Wow!!! If Goldman is putting their money in this, it must be serious!".

Additional Facebook analysis, valuationa and commentary.

On Max Keiser, go to the 13:55 marker for more on Facebook...

Last month I released an update to our Facebook IPO analysis (subscribers may download it here FaceBook IPO & Valuation Note Update). In its caveats section, I made pains to make very clear that one of the biggest threats to Facebook investors actually emanates from within, to wit:

FB_Corporate_Governance_issues_pt_1

FB_Corporate_Governance_issues_pt_2

Of course Facebook enthusiasm is burning hot. The coals in the "investor" (and I put this lightly) fire are being stoked by none other than the sell side agents doing God's work, among others...

Professional and institutional BoomBustBlog subscribers have access to a simplified unlocked version of the valuation model used for this report, available for immediate download - Facebook Valuation Model 08Feb2012. The full forensic opinion is available to all subscribers here FaceBook IPO & Valuation Note Update. It is recommended that subscribers (click here to subscribe) also review the original analyses (file iconFB note final 01/11/2011) as well as the following free blog posts on the topic:

  1. Facebook Registers The WHOLE WORLD! Or At Least They Would Have To In Order To Justify Goldman’s Pricing: Here’s What $2 Billion Or So Worth Of Goldman HNW Clients Probably Wish They Read This Time Last Week!
  2. Facebook Becomes One Of The Most Highly Valued Media Companies In The World Thanks To Goldman, & Its Still Private!
  3. Here’s A Look At What The Goldman FaceBook Fund Will Look Like As It Ignores The SEC & Peddles Private Shares To The Public Without Full Disclosure
  4. The Anatomy Of The Record Bonus Pool As The Foregone Conclusion: We Plug The Numbers From Goldman’s Facebook Fund Marketing Brochure Into Our Models
  5. Did Goldman Just Rip Its HNW and Institutional Clients Once Again? Facebook Growth Slows Pre-IPO, Just As We Warned!
  6. The World's First Phenomenally Forensic Facebook Analysis - This Is What You Need Before You Invest, Pt 1
  7. The Final Facebook Forensic IPO Analysis: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

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