e-Stocks: Finding the Hidden Blue Chips Among the Internet Impostors

Overview

With every revolution comes confusion and turmoil, and the Internet revolution is no exception, The upheaval of the information age has sent stocks to the moon and back, and investors have either been very lucky or lost their virtual shirts.

The Internet is not going away — it's growing rapidly and will continue to change the way we work, play, shop, communicate, and live. A few companies will survive and thrive in the wild ride to the New ...

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Overview

With every revolution comes confusion and turmoil, and the Internet revolution is no exception, The upheaval of the information age has sent stocks to the moon and back, and investors have either been very lucky or lost their virtual shirts.

The Internet is not going away — it's growing rapidly and will continue to change the way we work, play, shop, communicate, and live. A few companies will survive and thrive in the wild ride to the New Economy; others will not. How do you find the long-term winners among the start-up stumbles?

Welcome to e-Stocks, your comprehensive guide to Internet stock picking in the real world.

e-Stocks explores the myriad forces that drive the prices of Internet stocks and shows you how to assess the value of companies, pick attractive online opportunities, and make wise purchasing and selling decisions.

High-tech strategy consultant, angel investor, and CNBC commentator Peter S. Cohan has a tremendous record for beating the volatile e-stock market.

At the heart of Cohan's strategy is the search for companies with real, viable, ongoing, profitable businesses. He demonstrates how to inspect the fundamentals of each company, assess its business model, determine the health of the Internet sector in which it resides, and place a value on its stock.

Addressing such vital issues as the value of the Internet as a source of new business, which Internet stocks are the best performers, and the characteristics of Internet companies that provide the highest returns for investors, this timely compendium features action-oriented insights such as:

  • How to find the few profitable and rapidly growing Internet companies
  • HOW to identify the early warning signals that a high-performance Internet stock is about to drop, before it's too late to lock in gains
  • How to assess a company's future and pinpoint companies you should buy now

Don't let the high-tech stock market's turbulence discourage you from finding profitable, quality Internet companies that will outlast the hype, the chaos, and the cutthroat competition. The potential of e-stocks is limitless.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Cohan (e-Profit: High-Payoff Strategies for Capturing the E-Commerce Edge), CNBC commentator and consultant in high-tech investments, offers concepts in this primer that investors should consider when investing in high-tech Internet stocks. He examines the factors that go into Internet investing by looking at how investors choose stocks in general and tech stocks in particular. The author also thoroughly covers such important areas as the way Internet companies operate with regard to the state of the art in Internet technology; vehicles for the Internet (it is not just the computer but cable television and wireless communication devices such as the Palm and wireless telephone); and the investor's potential for success as a leader in innovation and marketing. This timely, well-written, but technical book (supported with graphs and tables) will appeal to investors, investment professionals, and those in academia. A good choice for large public, academic, and some special libraries. Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780066620831
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter S. Cohan is the author of e-Profit: High-Payoff Strategies for Capturing the E-Commerce Edge. He has appeared on Good morning America and CNNfn's Before Hours; is featured regularly in Business Week, Barron's, and Business 2.0; and has columns in the Industry Standard and the Financial Times. He lives in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



e-Stocks:
Finding the Hidden Blues Chips
Among the Internet Impostors



Consider two internet stocks — Check Point Software, up 2,571% since August 1998, and iVillage, down 99% from its all-time high in April 1999. Check Point Software is an Internet security software company whose stock price rose almost in a straight line from a split-adjusted $5 in August 1998 to $133.56 in December 2000. By contrast, iVillage is a Web site for women whose stock fared less well. According to MSNBC, iVillage's 3.65-million-share initial public offering was underwritten by Goldman Sachs in March 1999 at an offering price of $24 per share. At its open, iVillage traded up to $96 a share and climbed briefly to $120 in the weeks following (Byron, 2000). In December 2000, iVillage traded at $1.06 per share, a decline of 99% from its all-time high, of 98% from its opening trade, and of 96% from its official opening price.

The contrast in stock market performance between these two firms highlights a number of important issues. Is there any link between the underlying performance of the business as measured by its reported financial statements and its stock market performance? What role does the inherent profit potential of the industry play in determining the stock market success of an Internet company? How important is relative market share in determining the performance of an Internet stock? What is the difference between a well-managed Internet company and a poorly managed one, and how do these differences affect the relative stock market performance? Whatimpact do changes in supply and demand for the stock itself have on the firm's relative stock market performance?

Check Point Software as a company has benefited from its market leadership in a structurally attractive market. As we will explore in much greater depth in Chapter 9, Check Point Software is the leader in firewall software. Firewalls protect an organization's Web site from intrusion by hackers. The industry is attractive because it is big, growing quickly, and is able to charge a high price for quality products. Check Point Software has used its firewall leadership to knit together an entire suite of security products that give corporate network managers a higher level of network protection. Check Point Software also benefited from excellent financial results in 2000, including 88% revenue growth and 115% net income growth in the nine months ending September 2000.

iVillage has been damaged by its participation in an industry segment that is structurally unattractive and full of aggressive competitors. The company's strategy is to create Web content designed to draw women visitors whom Web advertisers will pay to reach. For the nine months ended 9/30/00, iVillage revenues reached $57.7 million, up from $19.9 million. iVillage's net loss for the period grew to $169.7 million, up from $79.7 million. iVillage gets 75% of its revenues from unprofitable Web advertising and the balance from an unprofitable online baby-products operation. In addition, The Delaney Report notes that iVillage has had a large amount of management turnover (Delaney Report, 1999). In a nutshell, iVillage is a weak company in a lousy industry, and its stock price, which declined 95% to $1.06 a share during the 52 weeks ending December 29, 2000, reflects the market's understanding of that fact.

While these two cases are by no means the most extreme examples of Internet investment wins and losses, they do illustrate an important point: Investing in Internet stocks is a game in which people can make and lose huge amounts of money. In the last several years, Internet investing has become huge. For example, as the financial weekly Barron's pointed out, Internet.com's Internet Stock List of publicly traded firms that receive more than half their revenues because of the Internet counted about 270 firms in February 2000, with total market capitalization in excess of $1.5 trillion. Those in the list that were public in 1997 had a combined market capitalization of $50 billion (Donlan, 2000). As we noted in the introduction, by December 2000, a significant portion of that value had been destroyed.

To help investors win the game of investing in Internet stocks, e-Stocks: Finding the Hidden Blue Chips Among the Internet Impostors develops seven key concepts:

  • Securities markets as five competing belief systems


  • Six rings of securities market information


  • Structural evolution of networked business


  • Nine Internet business segments


  • Four tests of a winning Internet company


  • Internet Investment Dashboard


  • The seven-step Internet investment portfolio-management process


While the remainder of this book will develop each of these concepts in much greater detail, we will introduce the concepts here and show how they can help investors win the game of Internet investing.

Securities Markets as Five Competeing Belief Systems

An important reason that securities markets function is that different groups of investors with varying investment objectives find themselves on opposite sides of a securities transaction because of their differing belief systems. Simply put, a buyer who believes a stock's price will rise purchases that stock from a seller who believes its price will fall.

When this book advocates a particular belief system, we will introduce that belief system by putting it in the context of competing systems. By doing so, it will become clearer why the belief system advocated in this book is likely to produce superior results for investors in Internet stocks.

As noted, securities markets depend on different groups of investors. One of the most significant trends over the last decade has been that the balance of power in the securities markets has tilted in favor of the individual. According to the Federal Reserve Bank Survey of Consumer Finance, released in May 1998, the proportion of American households that own stocks, either directly or through mutual funds and pension plans, has more than doubled, from 19% in 1983 to...

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 E-Stocks: Finding the Hidden Blue Chips Among the Internet Impostors 1
2 The Value of the Network 23
3 Internet Stocks and the General Market 36
4 Wealthy Traffic Cop: Internet Infrastructure Stock Performance Drivers 64
5 Volatile Fuel for the Fire: Internet Venture Capital Stock Performance Drivers 95
6 Pileup on the Information Superhighway: Web Consulting Stock Performance Drivers 125
7 Oxygen-Free Capitalism: E-Commerce Stock Performance Drivers 154
8 Virtual Doors Slamming Shut: Web Portal Stock Performance Drivers 187
9 Keeping the Barbarians Behind the Gates: Web Security Stock Performance Drivers 216
10 Profit-Free Navel Gazing: Web Content Stock Performance Drivers 247
11 Taking a Free Ride: Internet Service Provider Stock Performance Drivers 276
12 Picks and Shovels of the Internet Gold Rush: Web Tools Stock Performance Drivers 306
13 Investing in Internet Stocks 336
References 361
Index 363
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