Stock reviews: Internet content companies

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 02.26.2010 (5:00 am) | Write a Comment  (9 Comments)

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I often see all internet companies classified together and honestly it’s just not right to group them all together. One of the categories that is easier to understand is the web content companies. These are companies that are basically media companies, they do not sell products or services, they generally do two simple things:

-Produce content
-Sell advertising

Of course, some companies are larger and have other activities but I would say that in general, their main revenue generator is advertising. Among the companies that I track, here are the main companies I would describe as “content companies”:

IAC Interactive(IACI)
The Knot(KNOT)

What are these content companies?

Basically, these companies profits depend on:

-Revenues which are driven by:

-Advertising rates

-Expenses which are driven by:

-Cost of producing content
-Advertising expenses

Apart from Yahoo and AOL, I would consider these companies/websites to be very targetted and thus capable of getting high advertising rates. But that being said, traffic remains the core, especially when it is “organic growth”. Buying traffic is easy but not very financially viable long term. So the key is getting increased traffic with quality content. You can see graphs of Yahoo traffic (amazing how much steam it has lost in recent months) as well as a graph for WebMd and TheKnot (look at variations only, obviously many more users looking for medical advice than planning for a wedding). It is more difficult to do for companies like AOL and IAC Interactive which have dozens of different properties. Just take a look at IACI websites to get a feeling.

I have said it before and will say it again, I think it is increasingly difficult to be competitive when building websites in so many fields. You have dedicated teams working on one specific niche or subject and it becomes very difficult for “web conglomerates” such as Yahoo, AOL and IACI to compete. So yes, I have been doing and will probably continue to look for trades that will put me long a specialty website and short a web conglomerate.

Just out of curiosity, I did some comparisons between the two groups for a few different financial items (since AOL was only recently spun off, it id not included for lack of data):

Sales growth:

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg GrowthSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
GOOGGoogle Inc595.08N/A18.1N/A19.234.46N/AN/AN/A23.8417.098.1913
NILEBlue Nile Inc27.431.0821.23-43.2412.493.672.180.9535.8910.85109.90.65N/A

That being said, buying Knot(KNOT) at the current P/E ratio seems unreasonable (which explains why I am currently short) but I think by waiting for more “ideal” valuations, there are many trading opportunities. I do hope to add more of these companies to my trading radar in the future which will give even more possibilities.

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaEarningsRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
TZOOTravelzoo Inc17.5215.8417.42-18.294.673.672.640.7210/17/201410.369.6911.7717.82
TRIPTripAdvisor Inc99.8869.1736.6422.323.813.547.191.3310/23/20146.6129.3531.39N/A

The main risk that I see is always that since these specialised websites are more of a “One trick pony“, if a major competitor jumps in, they are obviously more vulnerable.

Do you agree that in general, these web conglomerates will underperform other specialised websites?

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