Tesla Update. Two Key Lessons.

I took some profits in my Tesla ($TSLA) position yesterday for the first time in 7 years. Technically, this was my second time taking profits, but the last I rolled my profit into Solar City ($SCTY), which was acquired by Tesla a year later.

Tesla Model Y in Red

Tesla’s share price was up over 50% on the week and up over 100% since the beginning of the year. This after a decent 30%+ gain in 2019. To me, the last week of action was an obvious “short squeeze” situation, making it a good time to take profits.

Another thing on my mind was the fact that Tesla stock is now about 10% of our net worth (minus the value of our business) and about 20% of my stock holdings across all of my retirement and brokerage accounts. I’m not too too worried about this. As Warren Buffet once said “If you have LeBron James on your team, don’t take him out of the game just to make room for someone else. … It’s crazy to put money into your 20th choice rather than your first choice.” Tesla is the Lebron James of my investment accounts.

The final thing I was thinking about was numbers from my Simple Tesla Model. A few years ago, I put together a simple spreadsheet to calculate the potential revenue, earnings, and share price of Tesla stock based on the production estimates Elon Musk was putting out. This is the first lesson I wanted to reiterate in light of the action in Tesla stock this week.

Lesson 1: Don’t forget Main Street. Build Real World Models of How The Businesses Behind Your Stocks Make Money.

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and calculations of Wall Street. What’s a good PE ratio for a certain sector? This company has grown sales at 50% per year and could continue growing 50% per year for the next 5 years. This kind of math is useful for comparisons and valuations, but you want to make sure you take a step back and think about what that company looks like in the real world (Main Street) after growing revenues 50% for 5 years. Is that REALLY possible?

At the time I built my simple model spreadsheet for Tesla, there were many people talking about how a valuation in the tens of billions of dollars didn’t make sense for a company like Tesla. Traders who were short the stock talked about how Tesla could never make enough money to justify their share price. But when I put my spreadsheet together, I found that if Tesla could sell 500k cars, they’d likely make $28B in revenue, which would justify a stock price as high as $517. If Tesla only got halfway there, they’d be worth much more than the $200 or so they were trading at in 2016.

To calculate in the risk of bankruptcy or larger failure, you would want to discount the price targets of the model to account for this, but we were already assuming Tesla would only hit 50% of their target, never grow past that, and never make money off their other business lines.

I’ve updated this model a couple times, most recently today. The current tab indicates a future share price of $494 if Tesla can hit about 392k cars sold this year. This is BELOW the current price of $734. And so I am much more comfortable selling Tesla stock when it’s trading above the values my models are spitting out.

Again, while I’ve updated the model to account for energy sales and service revenue, it assumes no growth in car manufacturing or those other business lines. If you plug in different numbers for where you expect Tesla to be 5 years out, you’ll get different targets.

I was also reminded of another important investing lesson:

Lesson 2: Stock Prices Go Up Even When Companies are Not Yet Profitable

Many investors have shied away from investing in Tesla because they feared the company would never turn a profit and thus eventually run into cashflow problems. Not even eventually, Tesla’s investments into the Giga Factory and in general have required them to raise money through special stock sales a few times in the past. Each time this happens, the value of your Tesla stock is diluted.

If you wait for a high flying companies to turn a profit before investing, you might be waiting a long time and miss out on huge returns. Another big winner in my portfolios has been Amazon, who famously hit almost exactly $0 profit each year for most of its existence. Only recently have they been showing a profit, and I would guess Bezos and Amazon would invest more to avoid that profit if they had things to invest in. (Or I don’t know, maybe they think they need the cash now.)

In any case, if you waited for Amazon to turn a profit, you missed a large gain from a well run company that is changing the world. The same can be said for Tesla. So how do you invest with confidence in a company that makes no profit? Here’s what I do.

First, I focus on revenues. As long as revenue is growing or likely to grow from current investments, I feel the companies stock is likely to grow in value as well. I lean toward valuation calculations based on revenue.

Second, I think about whether the company will be able to switch their focus from revenue to profits when they want to later. Will Amazon or Netflix be able to raise their prices? Will Tesla be able to lower their production costs? I tend to give these companies the benefit of the doubt unless there are very obvious concerns about this. You can choose to focus on the negatives, like when Tesla was forced to build cars in tents in the parking lot. Or you can focus on the positives that will drive higher production speed and higher sales margins. Things like removing purchase options that slow down production and figuring out the right mix of automated and human-powered labor will improve Tesla’s bottom line.

With more and more people switching to electric cars, Tesla continuing to own the electric car market, Tesla ramping up production in its existing factories and planning on building even more factories, the Model Y coming out soon, and so much potential in their other products… Tesla is set to potentially become a very large company making a lot of money. Tesla stock has generated a lot of returns for its investors and has a grand enough vision to continue doing that. That said, while the stock is temporarily inflated from a short squeeze, I booked some profits. Tesla is still a large percentage of my investment accounts, and I will continue to try to add to my position if and when the stock’s price falls below my fair value calculations.

Bitcoin SV Wash Trading

Rick D. at BeInCrypto.com digs into a theory for the recent spikes in the Bitcoin SV price. Is it from a BSV miner mining BCH instead, selling that BCH, then “wash trading” BSV on exchanges which pumps the volume and price.

The original Twitter thread by @vinarmani can be found here.

It’s actually a pretty genius gambit with essentially no downside. He can actually use this tactic to keep BSV at basic parity with BCH.

@vinarmani on Twitter

How I Sold My Bitcoin SV Coins

The last time I wrote about Bitcoin on the blog here was back in 2013. Bitcoin had just hit $1000 per BTC and I was still bullish.

Since then, Bitcoin has “forked” a number of times. Similar to open source software, if stake holders disagree about how to build out the Bitcoin software and platform, they can fork the platform and let the market decide which fork to support. It’s not a winner take all proposition either. There is room for multiple variants of cryptocurrency. The Coinbase blog has a good post on what forks are.

Wikipedia has a list of the larger Bitcoin forks. The biggest fork was the Bitcoin Cash fork on August 1, 2017. Bitcoin Cash itself forked on November 15, 2018 into Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).

I could talk about forks and the various pros and cons of each flavor of Bitcion, but for this post I’m going to focus on the technicalities of gaining access to the “new” Bitcoin SV coins and how I “sold” them.

If you hold your own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this fork thing is going to happen every once in a while, and you’ll need to spend some time to claim your “free money”. These are the steps I used to sell my BSV specifically, but the general outline would be used for claiming any fork. Just different software or exchanges might be involved.

Step 1: Own the private key or seed phrase.

To really “own” your Bitcoin, you need to own the private key for the wallet the Bitcoins are stored in. The actual private key is a 256-bit number. The more typical version you will interact with is the “seed phrase” that your wallet and private key were generated from. This will be 12 to 24 words that almost all wallet software will generate for you when setting up a new wallet.

If you store your coins in Coinbase or something similar, you may not “own” your private keys. This is actually not a terrible idea if you don’t trust yourself to keep your key safe and not forget it. In this case, Coinbase will wait until a new fork gets valuable or important enough to worry about and then split your coins for you and issue you an appropriate amount of coins on the new fork’s chain. They did this with Bitcoin Cash and later with Bitcoin SV. If you want to claim your forked coins earlier though, you’ll need to do it yourself.

My seed phrase then is basically the password needed to spend or move my Bitcoin. After a fork, the same exact seed phrase will work to spend coins on either blockchain.

So I could use my Bitcoin Cash seed phrase to “claim” my coins in Bitcoin SV and move those coins wherever I want. The problem with this is that I don’t necessarily trust the people behind Bitcoin SV or the wallet I would use. I am worried that using the “password” for my Bitcoin Cash wallet to spend my Bitcoin SV will allow someone else to steal my more valuable Bitcoin Cash coins.

So I tried to protect my Bitcoin Cash first.

Step 2: Create a new wallet for your old Bitcoin cash and send your coins there.

I used Electron Cash to create a new wallet. I then sent a test transaction from my old wallet to my new wallet, followed by a transaction to send all of my Bitcoin Cash into the new wallet.

I now have a different set of seed phrase words to access my Bitcoin Cash.

Step 3: Claim your Bitcoin SV using Bitcoin SV wallet software.

I chose to use the ElectrumSV wallet to access my BSV. ElectrumSV is an open source wallet, and while I didn’t compile from source or even double check the code myself for malware or back doors, being open source makes it less likely that this wallet is sending my keys back to a malicious third party.

Once I booted up ElectrumSV, I just chose the options to restore a wallet from my seed phrase and there my coins were.

Step 4: Move your Bitcoin SV into an exchange.

I’ve been investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a while, but I’ve never really used an exchange outside of Coinbase. I’ve created accounts on a few exchanges, but mostly just tested the UI.

I read that the CoinEx exchange is pretty popular, especially for trading BSV, and so I setup an account there. I was surprised that I didn’t need to give too much personal information to start my account. I confirmed my email address, set up Googlel Authenticator, and then I was ready to go.

As a new user, I was able to withdraw up to $10,000 USD worth of assets per day. If you want to withdraw more, you need to verify more information or wait. The amount of BSV I had would only take a couple days to withdraw.

Step 5: Exchange your BSV for BCH or Bitcoin

CoinEx gave me an address to add BSV to my “assets” there. I sent a small test amount, which showed up after a few confirmations.

Step 6: Withdraw your BCH or Bitcoin from the exchange.

I then exchanged that BSV for BCH using the exchange. And then “withdrew” those BCH into my Coinbase account.

After the withdrawl went through (it took about an hour’s worth of confirmations), I moved all of my BSV into CoinEx, exchanged it, and withdrew it to Coinbase.

Step 7: Exchange your BCH or Bitcoin for cash on Coinbase.

You could technically withdraw cash from CoinEx, but since I’m comfortable with Coinbase, I moved my coins there to convert to USD.

In this case, I think I am going to hold onto the BCH for a bit. I also left some BCH in CoinEx to play around with. I’m trying to come up with a trading strategy to test there, but I’m mostly a longer term investor, so I’m struggling to come up with something.

Since I’ve sold my BSV, it has rallied $75 more dollars per coin, while Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash have stayed flat. I feel that BSV is a scam in some sense, but there might be some virtue to it. I’ve been out of the loop. I think there is some value in making a coin that is useful and good for consumers and users, but also good from a mining standpoint to get them more involved. Maybe BSV will do that better than BCH or BTC.

Trends for Major Indices as of Thursday January 16th 2020

Here are the trends for the major indices today. Everything closed up and is trending up.


  • Long-term: Up
  • Intermediate: Up
  • Short-term: Up

S&P 500

  • Long-term: Up
  • Intermediate: Up
  • Short-term: Up

Russell 2000

  • Long-term: Up
  • Intermediate: Up
  • Short-term: Up

Jason’s Portfolio April 2016

I thought it my be useful for myself and others if I list out the stocks in my portfolio and watch list. I have informal categories for each stock I own based on whether I’m looking to buy, hold, or sell. I’d like to make those categories a bit more formal in this post and going forward.

The “Method”

There are really two things I’m tracking here for each stock in the portfolio.

One is what mode I’m in with regards to the stock; whether I am watching, buying, holding, or selling the stock.

The second item tracked in this list is the value of the stock; if I think the stock is undervalued, fairly valued, or overvalued.

Note that the mode is not a recommendation. It’s just how I am personally approaching the stock. The mode I list is based primarily on how large my position is in the stock. If I say I am “buying” a stock, I could be buying it right now if it’s undervalued or I might be waiting for the price to fall (sometimes as much as 50%) before getting in. Similarly, if I list the mode as sell, it just means that I have too much of that stock and need to find the right time and price to sell.

The Value on the other hand can be considered my opinion of whether a stock is a good buy or not based on the current price. I am not a professional… disclaimer disclaimer… I should really get the correct language to keep people from suing me… but if I say something is undervalued I think the stock price is going to be higher 5 years out and if I say it’s overvalued I think the stock price is going to be unchanged or lower 5 years out.

Here are the categories again.


  • Watching
  • Buying
  • Holding
  • Selling


  • ? (Need to research more.)
  • Undervalued
  • Fairly valued
  • Overvalued

Ideally I will be buying stocks when I think they are undervalued and selling them when they are overvalued, but whether I am buying or selling depends on some other things.

To skip to the list, you can load the Google Spreadsheet here. Or read below for an explanation of each “mode” and “value” category.


The “mode” I list for each stock is not a recommendation to buy or sell. It’s simply how I am approaching a stock. If I say I am “buying” a stock, I am really looking to buy. It just means I wish I owned more of this stock. I might be buying the stock at the current price or just as often I will be waiting for a stock to pull back (maybe as much as 50%) before really committing to it.

Similarly, if I say I am “selling” a stock, I may be selling it right now but just as often I am waiting to sell it. This really just means that I have more of this stock than I need and I could sell some to purchase stocks that I think are undervalued. I am almost never selling 100% of my position in a stock.

Here are some more details on each of the above “modes” I might be in with regards to the stocks in my portfolio. At any given time I’m either watching, buying, holding, or selling.


These are stocks that are on my radar, but I haven’t yet invested in. They might be a company that I am confident in, but need to do more research on to find a fair price to buy the stock at. Or they are a stock that I think is “on sale”, but I need to do more research on to find out if the underlying company is strong.


These are stocks I am looking to buy more of. Usually I am buying when the stock is also undervalued, but I’ll sometimes open positions in stocks when they are fairly valued with the hopes that they will drop further.

When buying, I try to open a 25-50% position and then buy in 25% chunks for each 10-20% drop in stock price. So if I had $10k to put toward a position, I would open a position with $5k and then buy another $2.5k when the stock price dropped, and another $2.5k if it dropped further. These are rough numbers. The specific numbers will depend on the particular stock and situation. But I’m generally dollar cost averaging into these stocks as the price bottoms out.


These are stocks that I am invested in and holding. I’m not buying more, either because my position is too large a % of my total portfolio or because the stock is fairly valued or slightly overvalued. I’m not selling either because in general I’m more interested in acquiring as much stock as possible in companies I think are strong vs trying to make “trades”.


These are stocks that have run up for me and I’m looking to sell. I generally won’t sell stock unless I need the money to purchase something else that is on sale (from my Buy list) or I think the market is heading downward and I want some cash to hunt for opportunities.


How do I determine if a stock is undervalued, fairly valued, or overvalued? In general, I try to guess how much revenue a company is going to be making 5-15 years out and figure out what a fair price would be assuming they get there and then discount that price based on risk factors. I use an analysis similar to what Phil Town does in his book Payback Time. You can see an example of that kind of analysis I did for GOOG here.

The list below will contain just one word, but behind that is typically a lot of research, earnings calls listened to, model spreadsheets, and deep thinking about the technicals and fundamentals of the stock and company. I also try to do some “main street” thinking by considering what the company actually sells, how much they think they are going to sell and at what margins/etc. It’s awesome to see a company like Apple growing at 25% per year, but are there enough people in the world to buy enough iPhones for them to double their revenue again?

Here are some general thoughts about each category of value.

? More Research Needed

If its been to long since the last time I researched a stock, I’ll put a ? in the value column. Maybe the stock price has run up and I’m not sure if it’s still undervalued. Maybe a few earnings reports have come in and my numbers need to be updated to take new numbers and growth rates into account.


These stocks are either mature companies with low PEs or revenue multiples (like Apple) or young companies where (in my opinion) the market is undervaluing the future earnings potential of the company (like Tesla). If a stock is in this category, I generally expect it to grow 2-4x over the next five years.

Unless I already have a large position, I should be looking to buy more of these stocks. If you asked me for a “stock tip”, these would be the stocks I would talk about.

Note however that undervalued doesn’t mean “will not fall in price”. Stock prices can always go lower, especially stocks that have had a good run recently. Stocks that are up 100% over the past year could still be undervalued. You’ll just have to be more careful when buying them (i.e. dollar cost average).

Fairly Valued

These stocks are priced about right based on the models I’m using. I’m generally holding these stocks and letting them run.

Over Valued

These stocks are highly priced (or “frothy”) based on the models I’m using. These are probably “momentum” stocks that the market is taking higher and higher. I’m generally letting my winners run, but if I need cash to purchase more of a stock in the undervalued category, these are the stocks I’m going to sell first.

My Portfolio

These are stocks that are on my watch list or stocks I own some amount of in my retirement account, my wife’s retirement account, or a couple of personal accounts I hold in my children’s names. For each, I’ll say what “mode” I’m in for that stock and how I think it’s “valued”. A “?” in the value column means that I need to update my research based on the current stock price and fundamentals.

I’ll keep an updated spreadsheet of this portfolio in Google Docs publicly here. Or you can see the list from the time of this blog post below.

Company Ticker Mode Value
Activision Blizzard ATVI Hold Fair
Amazon AMZN Buy ?
Apple AAPL Buy Undervalued
Disney DIS Hold ?
Google GOOGL Hold Fair
Hasboro HAS Hold ?
Netflix NFLX Hold Fair
Nintendo NTDOY Buy Undervalued
PayPal PYPL Buy ?
Solar City SCTY Buy Undervalued
Starbucks SBUX Hold ?
Square Enix SQNXF Buy Undervalued
Tesla TSLA Hold Undervalued
Take Two TTWO Hold ?
Twitter TWTR Buy Undervalued
Zynga ZNGA Buy Undervalued

Notice that this is almost 100% technology stocks, which does leave me undiversified by industry. However, technology companies are something I feel I have a lot of domain knowledge over which helps me to pick the winners. We also invest part of each of our accounts in total market and world market index funds.

When does Twitter Stock become cheap?

twitter-bird-white-on-blue-300pxI’m reading the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. In a section on the Agricultural revolution, Harari reminds us that while farming allowed human populations to grow, the quality of life for the average farmer was worse than the average hunter-gatherer. Farmers worked longer hours, with worse health, and generally lived more repetitive (and possibly more boring) lives than their hunter-gatherer counterparts.

Still, living in cities with farms to work on meant more babies, which meant more people with more reason to cooperate, leading over the years to the complicated network of nations and societies we live in today. Similarly, are modern day humans are working harder than our ancestors worked. Are we living longer, but less fulfilling lives?

It’s unclear to me whether tools like Twitter, which are taking up more and more of our precious time, are making our lives better or worse. It does seem to me however, that Twitter and the Internet in general are bringing people together cognitively in the same way that farms brought people together physically. While sporting events, movie launches, wars and riots happen in different places all over the globe, everyone can share in these experiences in the same virtual space in real time scrolling through Twitter feeds 140 characters at a time.

What does this have to do with Twitter as a company and stock? I’m not sure, but hopefully we can come together here to figure out if Twitter is a good investment at $22.45 per share.

Twitter (TWTR) stock is trading at around $22.45 a share right now, putting it at a market cap of $15.7 Billion. They have about $4B in cash, revenues of $2-$B, and trailing 12 month earnings per share of -$0.86 (negative 86 cents). Twitter IPO’d around $45 per share, hit an all time high around $75 per share earlier this year, and has since tumbled to the current price.

Is Twitter stock cheap yet?

The answer to this depends on what metrics you are using for valuation. Technology companies like Twitter, which have ubiquitous use but indirect methods of making money, are especially hard to value. I’ll try my best.

For mature companies there are two benchmarks that I like to use when valuing a company. (1) A price to earnings ration (PE) of 15. (2) A market cap that is 2x revenue.

Why these numbers? I think that’s a good topic for another post or ten, but in short a PE of 15 is roughly the long term average PE for the entire stock market. Similarly 2x revenue is fairly average for companies across industries and maps pretty well to the 15 PE if you consider an operating margin around 10-20%.

These numbers are most definitely rules of thumb and shouldn’t be held sacred, however they are a good starting point for analyzing a stock. If a stock doesn’t trade at a 15 PE or 2x revenue, that is normal and expected, but you can learn a lot by asking WHY the stock is trading at a different PE or revenue number. Is there something structural about the company that makes it more or less profitable than others? Or, as we’ll find is the case with Twitter, do we need to wait around for revenue growth to justify the market cap.

Where does Twitter stand from a revenue and PE perspective? As of writing…

Stock Price: $22.45
Market Cap: $15.7B
PE: N/A (negative  86 cents per share earnings)
Revenue: 7x Revenue (estimated $2.2B in 2015)

Not looking good, but let’s ask why the PE is negative and why the revenue multiple is so high.

Why is the Twitter PE negative?

Twitter is spending more money than it makes. Obviously this can’t be sustained, but it makes sense for young companies that are transitioning from a user growth phase into a revenue growth phase.

Twitter earnings are also hard to figure out due to the large amount of stock options they use to compensate their employees which makes for a large difference between their GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) and non-GAAP (shit we just made up) earnings numbers. This post is from 2014, but explains the difference in Twitter’s case pretty well.

As an aside, non-GAAP numbers are fine in principle and often help investors to understand special cases with regards to how a company is making money. More and more companies though are paying their employees in stock options, effectively moving that expense off the books by using non-GAAP numbers or diluting outstanding shares. It makes our job as investors harder.

The bottom line for Twitter’s PE is that negative earnings are obviously bad and if you invest in Twitter, you have to have some expectation that earnings will turn around at some point in the future. Hopefully sometimes soon before cash reserves run out. The good news is that Twitter’s earnings are trending up and future estimates are positive.

Specifically, to justify a $15B market cap at a 15 PE, Twitter would need to generate earnings of $1B per year. As we’ll see below, getting to the revenue and operating margin to bring in $1B in earnings should be very doable for Twitter a few years out.

Why is Twitter’s revenue multiple so high?

Twitter is currently trading at 7x revenue, which is above our 2x revenue benchmark. Why?

Again, Twitter is growing and investors know this. The 2x benchmark is for a mature company, i.e. one that is not growing or growing slowly. Twitter revenues are growing somewhere north of 50% quarter over quarter and year over year. At these rates, $2B in revenue in 2015 becomes $3B in revenue in 2016, $4.5B in 2017, etc.

The obvious next questions are if current growth rates can last (hint: they never do), how they will trend in the future, and if the company will be able to make a profit on those future revenues.

How big can Twitter revenue grow?

I’ll use a really simple method to calculate further revenues, which I’ll call “Twitter will make as much money as Facebook does”. More specifically, I suspect that Twitter will be able to make as much per user as Facebook is.

Anecdotally, Twitter’s new “put a sponsored tweet where you expect to see replies or click to reply” tactic is super annoying and probably making bank for them. I expect their revenue to beat in their next earnings report.

Facebook has about 4x the number of monthly active users (1.2B vs 300mm) but is making 8x the revenue ($17.4B vs $2.B). I believe that Twitter can close the gap and should be able to make at least $4.4B from their 300mm users. This would put their revenue multiple at a respectable 3x. If we expect their user numbers to grow as well, they can very reasonably reach a 2x revenue multiple in 2-4 years.

A 20-25% profit margin (reasonable for an Internet services company) on $4.4B in revenues leads to ~$1B in earnings or that 15 PE we’re looking for as well.

We’re just doing math here, so it’s important for everyone to do their own homework to see if they think that these numbers we end up with make sense. The particulars of each company, what I would call “Main Street Analysis”, will tell you in the numbers make sense. In practice that might look like a lot of reading of earnings reports, other analysis, or general knowledge of how the business works. In our case, we’re being lazy and just saying that Twitter will have a similar trajectory that Facebook has had since IPO.

So is Twitter cheap?

Based on this analysis and the expectation that Twitter can get to $4.5B in revenue and grow respectively from there, Twitter is about fairly valued and just starting to get cheap. So I personally am considering starting a position with the expectation to add more as the price drops. I’ll probably purchase shares in my children’s brokerage accounts. (Christmas money for the win.)

If you expect Twitter to grow into more than just a platform to show ads occasionally to 300m people, you can basically get all of that extra stuff for free. The current price is inline with the straight forward, low risk, advertising business Twitter has now. So any extra revenue from Periscope, premium services, digital ID fees, or spoils collected from the governments it overthrows is gravy.

In my opinion, Twitter is very much an integral part of our society. When news happens, it happens on Twitter first. Facebook is starting to work like Twitter in this way, but I don’t see it overtaking Twitter without losing all of the other stuff we like about Facebook. The hole quick, 140 character, nonchalant nature of Twitter is actually exactly what makes it work so well. And considering they are ingrained in every news organization, business, and with every celebrity, I don’t see another service overtaking them without warning.

Assuming the general market doesn’t suffer a pull back, Twitter should be free of any new “bad news” that could move the stock lower. Weak investors should be shaken out soon, and if Twitter continues to grow as I expect it to, I suspect a slow rise with each new earnings report. Look for the stock to trade a bit lower, but turn around soon, and then rise up steadily from there.


Apple. When are the fundamentals of the stock ever going to take charge of its price?

This post is inspired by a post by the user cyice on Stocktwits, who said: “when are the fundamentals of the stock ever going to take charge of its price“.

At $110 a share, Apple ($AAPL) is down around $20 or 16% from it’s highs just over $132. The stock trades at a PE ratio of 13. Minus the $200B in cash Apple has, that’s a PE of about 9. Meanwhile, companies like Google and Microsoft trade at PEs of 20 and 32 respectively.

I won’t go into why the market thinks Apple deserves a PE 1/2 of other tech companies (I wrote it up and decided to scratch it — the market is crazy and crazy hard to understand). If we just assume that the market has different rules for Apple, we can try to figure out what those rules are.

A chart…


In July 2013, Apple traded at $60 with a PE around 10. It touched $130 this year and a PE around 15 and now trades at $110 with a PE around 13. Also notice how the price bounced off the 200 day moving average in July 2013.

So one answer to the “when are the fundamentals of the stock ever going to take charge of its price” would be around a 10 PE, which would correspond to a price of about $90 and also come close to that 200DMA. I’m long Apple in a retirement account and would back the truck up if it dips down around this area.

ZNGA Update and Options vs Common Stock


Last week, I made the case to purchase Zynga stock in anticipation of their August 6th Q3 report. (BTW, you’ll be able to find the Q3 earnings report and conference call link on the Zynga Investor Relations site.) At the time, ZNGA was trading around $2.85 per share. Since then, the stock has dropped to around $2.60, recovering to around $2.70 at the time of writing this post.

My apologies to anyone who purchased on my recommendation last week and is now down about 5%. The thesis was to hold through earnings though, so hopefully you didn’t get scared out. It’s important to know both your exit from a trade and your tolerance for pain while holding through the trade. If you’re really following me, you are still holding. If you end up losing money after earnings, I apologize again, but I am not a financial adviser… this is not financial advice… please don’t sue… etc etc.

In my case, I’m bullish on Zynga as a company long term and looking to purchase as many shares as possible as cheaply as possible. I feel that $2.50 and definitely $2.00 are very strong support for the stock price and so barring any big screw ups in the company, it’s unlikely to go much lower than it is now. I think the current quarter’s earnings are likely to be good because the company has been turning around in general and also because their games have maintained high ranks in the app store “top grossing” charts while new games have come out. Existing games have had their video ad systems updated, and there is growth in general in both smartphone use and ads on smartphones. So things should be good. If they are, this might be my last chance to load up on Zynga stock before it starts to get expensive.

My Zynga holdings are about 8% of my retirement fund, which is on the mid to high side. I’m hesitant to add more, but I’ve also been hesitant to add more to other companies I had hunches about like this, and I’m trying to trust my gut more… especially when stocks are trading in value territory with lots of support. It would have been nice of me to have bought more Tesla, Amazon, and Activision at their recent lows. So I wouldn’t mind adding here even more before earnings.

Then the question becomes, what is the best way to add to my position? Should I buy more stock? Or purchase out of the money call options?

1. Just Buying Shares

This case is easy to analyze. I can buy about 300 shares at $2.7 each for a total of $810. If the stock moves to $3.10, I’ll make $0.40 on each share or $120. I’ll also have 300 shares in Zynga stock going forward. For my long term focused fund, it’s almost more important to track how many shares of a company you have (the assumption being you’ve picked great companies that will be valuable in the future) vs how much the stock price is up from your basis.

If earnings are poor or just not good enough and ZNGA shares trend lower, I’ll obviously lose X cents per share on 300 shares. Here is where things would stand at various price points:

$2.30: -$120
$2.60: -$30
$3: $90
$3.10: $120
$3.25: $165
$3.50: $240

2. Purchasing Call Options

When you consider buying options, things can get complicated. When purchasing stock, there’s basically two things you can do: purchase stock at the market price or wait. With options, you have to figure out not only when to buy but at which strike price and on which strike date. Here’s a view of the Zynga options chains in Etrade.



Figuring out which options to buy can be confusing and is the topic for another post (maybe there is one in our archive), but for now let’s assume I choose the options striking on August 7th (one day after the earnings call) at $3.00 (a good balance of risk reward).

Buying 140 contracts at $0.06, conveniently comes to $810. That would be $0.06 x 100 (100 options per contract) x 140 contracts. This purchase would give me the “option” to purchase 14000 shares of ZNGA stock at $3 per share. If the stock never gets to $3/share on August 7th, the options would expire worthless and I’d be out $810. If they got to $3.06 per share, I would just about break even. I’d be able to buy 14000 shares at $3 for $42k and then sell them at $3.06 for $42.8k. He’s what I would make or lose at different prices on August 7th:

$3 and below: -$810
$3.06: $0 (breakeven)
$3.07: $140 (about same as buying 300 shares)
$3.25: $3500
$3.50: $7000

As you can see the potential rewards are higher, but there is a bit more risk since I could lose all $810 invested. On the other hand, there is very little chance I would lose the total $810 invested in the “just buy stock” option. So let’s make a buy stock scenario that has a similar amount of risk.

3. Buying Shares with a Stop Loss

What is instead of buying 300 shares of ZNGA stock worth $810, we bought a higher number of shares and used a stop loss to limit our downside risk to $810. What might this look like? The first step would be to figure out a good place for that stop loss. Recently ZNGA got down to $2.60, but didn’t go lower. The current 200 day moving average is also hovering right around that number providing support. There is support at $2.60, so let’s place our stop loss there… 10 cents below the current $2.70 price.

If we bought 8100 shares at $2.70, we could set a stop loss at $2.60. Assuming no slippage (i.e. our stop loss actually fires at $2.60 when the stock gets that low), we would only lose $810 on those shares if the stock price went lower. Here’s what we would earn at the same price levels as in the options scenario:

$2.60: -$810
$3: $2430
$3.06: $2916
$3.07: $2997
$3.25: $4455
$3.50: $6480

In this scenario, we would risk the same $810, but stand to make even more than purchasing $3 options would. In some ways there is less risk in this scenario, since we still make money (a lot actually) if the stock doesn’t trade above $3. We also have the option of holding the shares past August 7th if we want to.

In some other ways, there is a lot more risk though. If ZNGA is trading at $2.65 before earnings, then reports terrible earnings and opens the next day at $2.30. There is a chance my stop loss would sell below my target and we could lose something like $3000 or more selling those shares for a loss. Oops.

The other thing to note in this scenario is that you would need to come up with $21.8k to purchase those shares, which is more than my current holdings. One option would be to go on margin to get that money. Generally, that’s a bad thing to do without knowing what you are doing. Purchasing options is actually one way to effectively trade on margin, but with fixed costs.

What am I going to Do?

I’m not sure yet. The options option looks nice as a way to gamble an extra $810 on this next earnings with a fixed amount of downside risk. Buying shares could be good as well, but I would do something between Option #1 and #3 above. For example, instead of buying them all at once, I could buy 3000 or so and then buy 3000 more if earnings were bad (and I still believed in the company). I’d have lost money, but would have even more invested in the company ready for the turn around. This is basically the strategy of my portfolio. It’s worked well for me with Netflix, Tesla, Activision, and currently Nintendo. Of course, I could get unlucky and average down on a company like this that drops to $0. The idea is I would hopefully make up for it with my winners… or basically be able to make good judgements to cut my losses when I really need to.

If I figure out what I’m going to do. I’ll post an update. Good luck everyone!

The Long Case for Zynga $ZNGA

ea_hero_imageAside: I’m going to try to blog here when I do research for stocks I’m investing in and in particular when I am sharing ideas with my mother. Explaining an investment to my mother and to the blog here are remarkably similar processes… so two birds with one stone and all.

Next up: Zynga (ZNGA).

Zynga makes games for mobile phones and tablets and also for sites like Facebook. They famously made their fortunes on the back of games like Farmville and Mafia Wars before going public. Since then, they have done a number of acquisitions and spent a bunch of money, but generally failed to create hits as big as Farmville was at the time. Their stock has tanked from $10/share at IPO to ~$2.85/share right now.

Sounds glum, so why am I bullish now? I’ll try to bullet point the case here, dive into some of the numbers, and then post the risks.

The Case

1. Downside is limited by cash and assets.

At $2.85, Zynga’s market cap is about $2.62 Billion. In 2014, they had about $1.8 B in shareholder equity, including about $1B in cash and equivalents and a $300m office. This puts a floor of about $2/share on the stock, with technical support at $2.50.

2. Revenue is turning around.

Revenue numbers were up year over year the past 3 quarters. Zynga is already set to post their first annual YoY gain in revenue since the IPO and a surprise this quarter topping $175m (which is above most estimates) would mean 4 quarters in a row of YoY revenue growth.

It appears that Zynga is turning the corner on revenues, and while up from all time lows, the stock price still seems to reflect a company that is shrinking and not growing.

3. Mobile games industry is still growing.

By one account, the mobile games market grew from $21.7B to $25 from 2013 to 2014. That 15% per year growth is going to be a nice tailwind for the mobile games market. So even though Zynga is not the only game in town, the pie is getting bigger.

Many traders are watching the iOS and Android store “top grossing” charts and trading parent companies as games move up and down the list. The position of games on this list is a great indicator of revenues for the parent companies, but it seems people are being harsh as games move down the list. A top 10 spot on the list today is worth as much as the top 1 spot a few years ago. And so Zynga with 2 top 20 games in Hit it Rich and Wizard of Oz Slots is making decent revenue despite sliding down the list a bit.

4. Games pipeline is strong.

Zynga released Empires and Allies this quarter, which has done well on the charts. It’s recently jumped up the free downloads chart (as high as #1) while simultaneously sliding down the grossing charts. This is really odd, and some have accused Zynga of manipulating the free downloads charts. There have been bugs forcing people to reinstalls (probably not adding bugs on purpose) and Zynga has been advertising Empires and Allies on Twitter and other places, both of which would inflate download numbers.

Historically, Zynga has done much advertising promotion for their games. Instead they relied on their social integration to get gamers to bug their Facebook friends for virtual wood to build their farms. In my opinion, the fact that Zynga is starting to advertise Empires and Allies is more a sign that they believe they have a good pipeline to convert ads into real customers than a sign of desperation to inflate unimportant numbers.

Besides Empires and Allies, Zynga will be releasing a couple games from Natural Motion which they acquired last year: CSR2 Mobile Racing and Dawn of Titans. Both games are visually heads and shoulders above other mobile games and could be very popular as customers look for something to take advantage of the beefier tablets coming out.

5. Ad revenue should increase.

There is more demand for ads on mobile devices and game developers are getting better at integrating ads into their games in ways that are not intrusive and actually encourage users to watch video ads. In particular, users can watch video ads in Zynga slot games to earn money to spend on the slots. Similar features are being added to exiting Zynga games and will surely be included in all future games.

Ad revenues are not incorporated into iOS and Android “Top Grossing” and so can be missed by traders and investors focusing on those numbers.

Higher revenue from smarter ads means that Zynga can earn higher revenue even with lower daily active users.

6. Real Money Gaming could be huge.

Real money gaming hasn’t taken off on mobile yet, but as regulations loosen up or companies get bolder things could start moving fast. Gambling via fantasy sports is a booming industry, which is an indicator of demand for fantasy sports but also for gambling.

Zynga is in a good position here with top casino games, the top free poker game, and lots of real money gaming patents.

Future Stock Price Estimates

The general thesis here is that revenues are turning around, existing cash cows and cash chickens will support current levels of revenue while new games and eventually real money games will support growth in revenue.

If Zynga can grow back to $1.2B/year in revenue and and make $360m/year on 30% gross margins, their stock price could be:

  • $4.02 based on 2x revenue + cash value ($3.7B Market Cap).
  • $6.03 based on 15 PE ($5.55B Market Cap)

Again, this would be based on the assumption that Zynga can double revenues and achieve a decent profit margin. Considering they’ve hit these revenue numbers before, it’s not unreasonable to think a more mature Zynga might “get lucky” again.

It took Zynga 3 years to shrink from $1.2B/year revenue to $680m/year. If it takes 3 years to grow back to that level, the estimates prices above would represent total gains of 40% and 111% respectively, or annualized returns of 12% and 28% respectively.


Still, there are risks…


The main risk to this thesis is that existing Zynga games drop off in users and revenue while new games coming out fail to gain users.

Also there isn’t a great explanation why Empires and Allies can have so many downloads without a similarly high placement on the top grossing lists. It could be that Zynga is wasting money advertising Empires and Allies without a proper return.

If the turn around in Zynga’s revenue is not accompanied by a turn around in earnings this year, then they will continue to lose cash pushing the $2 price floor lower.


I have a position in Zynga shares averaged around $2.90 a share and added an amount equal to 50% of my old position recently in anticipation of Zynga beating Q2 revenue and earnings estimates in their August 8th earnings call.

If the earnings goes well, Zynga should climb to $3.50 or higher. If not, there could be a pull back with technical support at $2.50 and fundamental support at $2.00.

Bitcoin hits $1000. Where is it going?

I’m bullish on Bitcoins, from a price perspective and also from a technology perspective.

Like many out there, I’m kicking myself for not jumping on the bandwagon sooner. I remember when they were $5 and I was first reading about them. I remember when they were less than $1 per coin, and my office computer could mine about 1 per week, thinking it wasn’t worth the electricity cost. I remember wanting to buy 200 of them at $10 each as a speculation play with our InvestorGeeks ad money, and then wanting to use my own money.

At those times, buying Bitcoins was harder to do and more confusing. I kept putting it off. Now, services like Coinbase are making it pretty easy to buy and sell them. FWIW, I now own about 8 of them personally purchased from $65-$350 each.

I just replied to a post on Howard Lindzon’s blog with some of my thoughts RE why Bitcoin is the perfect vehicle for speculators and why good or bad the price is likely to go up. I may post more about Bitcoins here from time to time along with other investing writing.

Bitcoin is really useful is so many ways and the technology is just getting started. But the asset is just perfect for speculation. It’s designed to have 0 inflation, which means it has basically infinite deflation. It trades 24/7. And there is no real way to value a Bitcoin. So unlike cerca-2000 internet stocks, where you can say “hey this company isn’t actually making any money”, with Bitcoin there is no “main street” valuation to add any sense into the price levels.

FWIW, my favorite valuation method is to compare the total amount of transaction activity to the GDP of US states or small countries. So if people do as much commerce using Bitcoins as is done in the state of Pennsylvania in USD, that would be about $400B per year or a $400B “market cap” for Bitcoin, which is about $20,000 per coin. Of course that makes hardly any sense, especially when a lot of the Bitcoin transaction volume is investing and moving money around in accounts. But that’s kind of the point. We have no f’ing clue how to figure out what the value of a Bitcoin is.

The 1% is sitting on a lot of money and as they put some of that into Bitcoins, the price is going to go up. It has some room to run IMO. As more companies, investors, and people in general get skin in the game, there will be a limit to how far prices can crash. Lots of people have a stake in making sure Bitcoin doesn’t become “worthless”.

Of course some more experienced investors who were paying close attention to other “bubbles” in the past probably recognize this as a case where smart/wealthy speculators are taking advantage of other dumb/wealthy and not-so-wealthy speculators.

So the speculation that is a large part of the current price level is going to stick around. I find it hard to believe that with increased use and spending of Bitcoins (public ATMs, everyone with a Bitcoin debit card, Bitcoin transactions baked into internet ecommerce) that the speculation will die down.

We have a few more waves left in this IMO. That log chart is probably a good way to try to time it, but be careful.