E-Mailbag Monday: Kana, Market Capitalization and HomeCom

What’s your opinion of the upcoming Kana IPO?

Reply: This company develops high-end software solutions for
eBusiness. The software can be used for start-ups, as well as blue chip

Basically, Kana helps companies manage huge volumes of inbound and outbound
email, as well as Website-based communications. Thus, a company can profile
customer information and target messages, generate e-commerce
notifications, respond to customer report queries, and so on. In other
words, Kana provides automated customer support.

Such technology not only reduces the costs of support, but also helps to
generate revenues (because of the targeted marketing opportunities).

Kana’s technology is scalable and in accordance with the latest Net
standards, such as Java and XML (extensible mark-up language).

The company has over 100 customers, including eBay, eToys and

All in all, the IPO should be red hot.

The lead underwriter is Goldman Sachs and the proposed ticker symbol is

Here are the valuation metrics assuming the IPO is priced at the top of its

Kana Communications


pro forma IPO


Shares offered


Price target/actual




Shares out



IPO market cap


less working cap


plus LTD


Enterprise value


1999 Revenues


1999 Losses


Annualized rev.



Kana Communicatons


Revenue multiple


Rev. multiple


Number of Shares: Bigger the Better?

Hi Tom:

I recently read a report saying that AOL has over 1 billion shares
outstanding. What does that really mean to a company?

Jonathan from China

Reply: In itself, it actually means little. Rather, the most
important metric is market capitalization. This is the number of shares
outstanding times the stock price. For example, suppose a stock has 1
billion shares outstanding, yet sells for $0.01 per share. Well, it’s not
very impressive.

As forAOL (AOL),
it has a stock price of $86, which translates into about a $95 billion
market capitalization (there are about 1.1 billion shares of the company

Or, there are a few stocks with a small number of shares outstanding, yet
still have a huge market capitalization. This is the case with
Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA)
. The company has a mere 1.5 million shares outstanding. However, its
stock price is $61,900, putting a $94 billion market capitalization on the

Now, the significance of having a high market capitalization is that a
company can use its stock as currency to buy other companies. For example,
Cisco (CSCO)
used 100 million shares to buy Cerent, which amounted to about $6.9

The HomeCom Bomb

There are so many internet banking companies outthere now (nFront,
Security First, HCOM etc.) I was wondering why HCOM, with a $8 million
revenue rate and numerous contracts throughout the banking, credit union
and insurance industry suffers so.

David Greene

Reply: The market cap of HomeCom (HCOM)
is very low — at about $23 million. I think the problem goes back to
the middle of May 1997, when the company went public. The company used a
small underwriter — Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. — and issued a limited amount
of shares (1 million), raising only $5.5 million.

Basically, the company got lost in the noise. What’s more, after the IPO,
the stock began to fall. Since then, the stock has been struggling.

By having a small underwriter, there has been little aftermarket support —
such as with institutional following. That’s why it’s important, when
investing in IPOs, to gravitate towards bigger underwriters.

However, on limited resources, the company has been effective in amassing
valuable contracts. This year, the company has signed a myriad of licensing
deals with banks and credit unions.

Thus, the company may represent an Internet value play; in other words, a
possible buyout candidate.

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