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Step aside, Facebook. You're no longer the most expensive tech stock out there. Twitter can now claim that title.
According to this morning's edition of The Wall Street Journal, the microblogger that I once argued was worth $1 billion is being valued at $8 billion to $10 billion in low-level acquisition talks with Facebook and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) . Talk about impressive.
Or crazy, if you pay attention to valuations. Twitter is due to pull in $100 million to $110 million in current-year revenue, the Journal reports. Thus, at $8 billion, the company is valued at roughly 80 times enterprise value to revenue. (I say "roughly" because we don't have balance sheet data for Twitter and EV is an equation: market cap plus debt minus cash.)
Facebook looks cheap by comparison. The social superstar took in $1.86 billion in ad revenue last year and is on track to produce just more than $4 billion in ad revenue this year, eMarketer reports. Do the math and you'll find that, at a market value of $82.9 billion, Facebook is trading for 20 times current year revenue estimates -- one-quarter the premium Twitter is apparently seeking.
Before you decry the reality distortion field that is Silicon Valley, remember that Mr. Market is just as likely to shout at the rain and talk to mannequins. These five stocks sit right with Twitter in the market's nosebleed seats:
|Molycorp (NYSE: MCP )||$4.48 billion||252.0|
|Kayne Anderson MLP Investment Co.||$2.09 billion||142.9|
|Yoku.com (Nasdaq: YOKU )||$3.17 billion||77.0|
Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.
In all, Capital IQ found 16 companies worth at least $2 billion in market value trading for 20 or more times revenue to EV. Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) , at 33.5 times, and Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA ) , at 21.3 times, were the most recognizable tech names on the list. Both offer great growth stories. Baidu owns the search market in the world's most populous country; Tesla has created the world's first clean-tech sports car.
Twitter, too, has a great growth story. But it's also not as great as executives once thought it might be. Back in summer 2009, leaked documents showed the company was targeting $140 million in 2010 revenue from 100 million active users. A year and a half later, we know that was too aggressive. Twitter booked $45 million in revenue last year, the Journal reports.
Yet there's still growth here. Twitter hosts about 160 million active users; a 6x increase over 2009's 25 million. Clearly the company has captured the imaginations of web-savvy computer users. That's worth something, but not $8 to $10 billion in market value.