Don't Fall for This Twitter Trap

It will be months before Twitter's IPO possibly hits the market, but there was at least one publicly traded investment on the move today after yesterday's filing by the micro-blogging giant in anticipation of going public. 

Firsthand Technology Value (NASDAQ: SVVC  ) -- a closed-end fund that rallied last year when Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) announced that it would be going public -- opened 8% higher today. Its second-largest holding just happens to be Twitter.

Now, don't get too excited. Before you fire off a buy order, keep in mind that Firsthand Technology Value soared a whopping 76% in a single week last year, only to give most of that back.

That rally lacked common sense, and that was months before Facebook's IPO fell flat. The tech fund's NAV was $23.92 per share at the end of 2011, and 82% of that was stocked away in cash. There was no reason for it to trade as high as $46.50 the month before Facebook went public. It was buying privately placed shares at roughly the same price that retail investors would. 

To be fair, Firsthand Technology Value is in a better place these days. For starters, it's now showing a profit on paper with its Facebook investments, as the social networking juggernaut has bounced back in a major way. It's actually also trading at a surprising discount -- even after today's opening pop -- of its estimated gross assets of $25.80 per share. 

The fund is still holding a lot of cash -- 52% of gross assets -- as of the end of last month. 

This is still a concentrated portfolio, with big bets on Facebook at 11.2% of the fund's gross assets, and a 10.4% position of the fund's gross assets in Twitter.

It's that Twitter investment that could trigger another insane rally in Firsthand Technology Value. Buying in now, while the fund is trading near its NAV, is fine. Chasing it -- as speculators are bound to do in the coming days as they seek out ways to play the Twitter IPO -- will be dangerous and stupid.

Investors thinking that they had found the perfect Facebook coattails play last year were burned, and that will happen this time around if you wind up overpaying for this closed-end fund later this month.

Know what you're buying. Know how much you're paying. It may be fine to ride the potential rally here for now, but you better make sure you know when to jump back out.

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  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 1:15 PM, Ventureshadow wrote:

    The Twitter IPO will increase SVVC book value. Much of stock market pricing involves appearances, trends, and fads, and it is no shame to make money from such things. It makes sense to buy SVVC at or a bit above present book value in anticipation of a price run-up. The opportunity to buy low and sell high is the real story here. Your headline is not related to the actual present state of SVVC price.

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