Careful about that Youku on your Shoe

Last week’s sensation Youku (YOKU) continues to spiral back down to earth… it is now down $17 from its $50 Friday morning peak aka 34%. That’s pretty impressive work for about 1 “market day”.

My “bashing” comments last week inspired Yahoo Finance type of messages from the true believers on Seeking Alpha…. only in the stock market world is stating facts such as YOKU peaked at 100x sales at $50 ($5B market cap), whereas Groupon received a bid for 11-12x sales from Google ($6B market cap) that was booed by the Google investor base as too pricey considered ‘bashing’. It seems much like politics, if facts don’t agree with your position, you are a basher. Rather than yell at me, it would have been wise to take profits at the ridiculous prices seen Friday. For all I know the stock goes up 20% tomorrow or down by that much – it will have nothing to do with a sensible valuation.

For a “Groupon-like” valuation of 12ish x sales [we have to use sales since this is a money losing operation] we’d be giving Youku today a $600 million market cap. Granted I don’t expect the stock to ever get there – it would be a $6 stock, and the investment bankers who brought it public have a big incentive to support the price, but assuming Youku doubles sales annually the next 3 years we have

$50M in 2010
$100M in 2011
$200M in 2012
$400M in 2013 (revenues would still be smaller than Groupon has right now)

$400M in sales in 2013 x a 12 time price to sales = $4.8B market cap aka $48ish. Of course we are not talking profits – simply a huge price to sales premium. (Groupon has $500M sales today per all accounts)

So yes Youku can “grow” into its valuation someday, but if you pay $33 today you would be waiting almost 2.5 years (mid 2013 revenue of roughly $300M assuming Youku never slows down sales and can grow 100% annum) simply to get to a value similar to what Groupon just received. (and Youku does have competition) I realize the 2 companies are in totally different arenas, and in different countries – just commenting on general nosebleed valuations in Internet bubble 2.0 as Ben tries to mimic Alan’s Y2K game plan. Again, none of this means the stock won’t jump 20% tomorrow but it will be due to “I can find a new sucker tomorrow” theory – not reality. For all those that point to (BIDU) as a roadmap for – after its IPO spike, Baidu did nothing for a year (actually for 5 quarters from mid 2005 to late 2006) as it ‘grew’ into the valuation. And the market opportunity for Baidu is far greater…. what is worth more? Google’s business or YouTube/Netflix/Hulu (or whatever magic combination you want to claim Youku is… or could be in theory)

p.s. How many DVDs has Youku mailed out to customers? Zero? Oops that is bashing… just remember, if you can’t justify a valuation find another company Youku could be like… Netflix it is!

Disclosure: No position

About Mark Hanna 542 Articles

Affiliation: Hanna Capital, LLC

Mark Hanna is President and Owner of Hanna Capital, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm. Mark has been a follower of markets since the late 80s, with a focus on individual equities since the mid 90s. He has been a well known commentator in the financial blogosphere for the past 5 years, following a career in corpoporate finance and accounting. Mark attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with a degree in Economics.

As an avid reader, Market Montage is the personal blogging site for Mark to share his views on economics, markets, and the like. Occasional cynicism and wit shall be deployed in his postings.

Follow Mark on Twitter @fundmyfund.

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