Social media site Angie’s List IPO’d yesterday, and the market now values it at nearly $900 million.
While those are hardly Groupon Bubble numbers, the valuation is still high and more possible evidence of a bubble in social-media companies. So how did the press cover it?
First, a run through some numbers. Skip the next four graphs if you don’t like that stuff.
You can’t do a P/E (price-to-earnings ratio) on Angie’s List. It doesn’t have any “E.” The company has never made money and still loses it big time—$27 million in 2010 and $26 million in the first half of this year alone. That’s on 2010 revenue of $59 million and first half 2011 revenue of $39 million.
Let’s put this another way: Angie’s List took in $39 million in revenue in the first six months of this year and spent $65 million. Ouch. And the pace of losses continued to widen in the third quarter.
By my quick estimate based on current growth, it looks like the company will bring in about $85 million in sales this year. That’s more than 10 times sales.
While its sales are growing fast—41 percent in the first half and 55 percent in the third quarter—it’s worth noting that this is no startup. It’s a sixteen-year-old company.
Needless to say, it’s worth being skeptical of this company’s prospects.
Here’s MarketWatch’s David Weidner on Angie’s List’s debut:
Angie’s List Inc.’s surging debut following its initial public offering tells us that the right company, with the right financials, is still sought after by investors.
It’s almost how it’s supposed to work.
After initial enthusiasm, duds such as Pandora Media Inc. and GroupOn soiled the IPO stage. Pandora is down 24% since its debut and GroupOn never came to market.
I’m going to have to assume that “GroupOn” is the same thing as Groupon, which did indeed come to market two weeks ago. Its shares are up more than 20 percent from the IPO price.
And how does Angie’s List have the “right financials”? No case is made beyond this:
Investors are still willing to buy IPOs as long at they have a proven financial track record and a tangible product.
Never making money and losing increasing amounts of it over sixteen years is a “proven financial track record,” all right.
MarketWatch cousin The Wall Street Journal is better with this skeptical “Overheard”:
That said, as with other social-media stocks, there is still that pesky concept of valuation to deal with: Angie’s more-than-$900 million market capitalization works out to a multiple of about 11 times this year’s likely revenue.
And, in true dot.com fashion, the company forecasts losses for the foreseeable future.
The Journal also had a good curtain-raiser in yesterday’s paper. It emphasizes that the company loses money, and it pulls this eye-raising stat (emphasis mine):
Some analysts expect Angie’s List to trade higher than its IPO price on its first day, like other unprofitable Web companies with large customer lists that have gone public, including Groupon Inc. and Zillow Inc.
But its business model and finances have gotten mixed reviews, partly because of the company’s high costs to advertise for new paying users. Angie’s List increased selling and marketing spending from 63% of revenue in 2009 to 103% in 2011.
In other words, the company is spending more to bring in revenue than it’s getting in actual revenue. That’s a bet on rapidly expanding to new markets, where it hopes those new customers and clients will stick with Angie’s List and marketing costs will fall. Maybe so, but maybe not. It’s a bet (all stocks are to a certain extent, but bear with me), and that’s the point. It’s speculation.
USA Today is also skeptical, in a story about Yelp going public:
Yelp, like Groupon and Angie’s List, is a money-loser, so far. The company, founded in 2004, hasn’t earned a dime since 2006, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. For its most recently reported period, it lost $7.6 million on revenue of $58.4 million.