eMailbag Monday: AOL, Preview Travel, Bid.com, CMGI
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First reader up this week writes:
"I am an investor from Turkey and I would like to get your opinion on PTVL. As far as I am aware the company has 7mln user which puts the valuation for users at USD 38. Compared with other etailers what do you think the valuation should be?"
Reply: Preview Travel (NASDAQ:PTVL) was an original pick of mine back in January. I dropped it from the list just before its CEO resigned a few months ago. However, Preview holds an impressive list of partners including AOL, Excite, Lycos, Snap and USA Today.
While I think Preview has some issues to overcome such as paying huge fees to be on AOL, etc., I think as a pure e-customer aggregator it could command a value of $75 to $100 per each of its 7 million registered subscribers. PTVL was $45 per registered user as of April 16.
"Steve, I was wondering your thoughts about the frenzied rush to own the next CMGI. If that is possible. In your column you have mentioned WCAP, SFE, and TMO at various times. Of them all you said that it was a little too early at this stage to make any significant comments on WCAP but that you thought SFE was developing an interesting story. Have you seen London Pacific (LPGLY)..?"
Reply: London Pacific (with offices in Channel Islands and the U.S.) is a large firm with interests in insurance and assets. The Internet angle: equity in NetGravity (NASDAQ:NETG), Net Perceptions (IPO pending) could be valued at more than $200 million. LPGLY market value on April 16 was $457 million.
Is it another CMGI (NASDAQ:CMGI)? Hard to create one of those since each company has its own style and outlook. But London Pacific has been investing alongside many venture heavyweights lately in the Internet space.
"Steve: Your outlook on AOL?"
Reply: The one to beat. The bellwether. Bigger than Microsoft some day perhaps. My view has been consistent here since AOL (NYSE:AOL) was in the teens. The key for me was the successful transition in 1996 AOL made from closed online service to being both online service and the world's largest ISP, gateway to the Web. With Netscape and ICQ now under its belt I think AOL has Microsoft worried like no other firm on the planet.
Bidding on NASDAQ
"Have you looked into Bid.com (TSE:BII), which has filed for listing on the Nasdaq and has just been placed on the TSE300? The stock was $6CAN in March, it was trading as high as $32CAN last week."
Reply: Well I'm familiar with Bid.com, ever since it was Internet Liquidators and AOL bought part of it years ago. The planned move the stock is making to NASDAQ is old news and I believe mostly factored in BII shares already. The bidding space seems crowded also, no matter what exchange the stock trades on. BII at $27.70 April 16 was just off its 52-week high of $32.35 per share.