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Old 07-01-2007   #1
cryptblade
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Playing the Stock Market with Search

How many of you held stock in Aquantive when Microsoft bought it out? What about holders of Yahoo or Google or Amazon? Or Omniture and Websidestory?

I'm curious how many of you out there are playing the stock market based on companies you know through the search and online marketing industry.

The clear big heads are Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) (...and Microsoft I guess...). There's also Ebay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN).

There's Valueclick (VCLK)- in which there are talks about it as a takeover candidate after Doubleclick's takeover and Aquantive's takeover.

I got into Omniture (OMTR) at the beginning of the 2007 and it has nearly doubled since then. Websidestory is also traded publicly WSSI. However, Omniture is up over rumors of a takeover.

On the international search front, there's Baidu (BIDU) - the Chinese "google"

Anything else people are looking or invested into? I'm curious if people in the search industry are investing in stocks of companies that we know?
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Old 07-01-2007   #2
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I remeber that Aaron Wall was trying to do exactly this. On his blog (seobook.com) he has a section about the stock market I think.

In the end he stopped it, b/c he realized he could make more money from Google's index than from their stock (in his words).

I checked some of the predictions he made...for example once there were some news in the search industry that somebody left a search company (or another internet company?) who was known to be one of their most important guys and the stock hardly changed..which made him curious to get into that stock thinking he had insider information on that stock and that the market had not yet reacted to it.

Anyway I checked this one and the market didn't react after it, either....

So my guess is that even if we think we do have insider information by being in the industry there are other people a lot closer to the source who find out about it earlier than us little guys even if we're big into search/the web.

I guess its sort of like sports betting: You "Only" have to make 53% or more on your bets and youre winning money. And you dont have to beat the oddsmakers (they only make the odds so 50% of the money is on each side of the bet..they make their money through commissions) you "only" have to beat the average sports bettor.

However the problem with this is that even if the number of average sports bettors who have no system/idea what they bet on really and whether a line represents a good opportunity or not outnumber the number of professional sports bettors by far...the professional sports bettors apparently have the majority of money in the game (sort of like the 80/20 rule...20% of the bettors have 80% of the money in the game...maybe its even like 2% have 90% in it?..).

I wouldnt be surprised if this wasnt any diff. in the stock market. You can probably easily outperform the average investor/trader who buys/sells search stocks. But you probably wont have an easy time outperforming the big investors who invest into those companies/trade companies in the search space. And they're probably the majority of your competition (by amount of money/shares).

I dont want to discourage you, though. If you can use your search knowledge to make profits in the stock market that would be real nice.
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Old 07-02-2007   #3
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I'm not talking about using search and news as conjecture into "insider information"

I mean more for..."value" stock trades. For example, how many people bought into Google? How many people held Doubleclick or Aquantive before they were bought up?

I, for one, hold stock in Omniture because I know they are best of breed for analytics. They were cheap when I got into them. They've doubled since I got into them. Pretty cool.

But, I am curious about people taking time to build up their portfolio. Think about. You might make a lot of money "gaming" the engines, but you ain't gonna put all that money into the bank right? Portfolio investment helps with the slight passive income...unless you put it all into annuities then.. well.. you know.

Anyway, I am still curious if there are other people here. I know there are Aquantive, Avenue A Razorfish people here, Overstock, and all them others who aren't purely in search! Come on yall! Come out of the shadows!
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Old 07-02-2007   #4
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I didnt mean it as in "insider information" with a negative connotation just in case that's what it came across(?).

But anyways, sorry for the little misunderstanding, I think I see what you mean now. and good luck! of course
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Old 07-02-2007   #5
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Originally Posted by NewKidOnTheBlock
I didnt mean it as in "insider information" with a negative connotation just in case that's what it came across(?).

But anyways, sorry for the little misunderstanding, I think I see what you mean now. and good luck! of course
Nah - it'd be too easy if search gave investors that kind of advantage. Trust me - investment managers, day traders - they are smart. If search was THAT GOOD - oh baby, search engines would be even bigger darlings of the business world & the Feds would be all over Google and Yahoo by now. ...I wish it WERE that easy, heh.

Here's another thought. How many people bought into RIMM - the Blackberry people - because of our industry? I mean, we KNOW how important technology gadgets are, especially mobile gadgets. Are there others here playing the market based on work experience and what they know?

I worked at a company that used Salesforce (CRM) and repackaged Salesforce and sold it to other clients (as a distributor). I took a look into Salesforce knowing it was public. Got into the company when it was low and sold when it went up $10 per share (it's now lower than when I sold - heh!). I made a nice profit.

I'd be curious about the SEM industry. These guys are more poised for knowing what companies and stock plays there are compared to SEO. I mean, look at Aquantive and Doubleclick - bought up and private now. What about Valueclick or Aptimus? Omniture is up really because of the SEM industry and interactive advertising, not because of SEO.

I would imagine some smart people here know about infrastructure companies that provide technology, hardware, software, and services that help other companies involved in SEM do things or make money.
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Old 07-02-2007   #6
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I have a Yahoo stock story.

A long time ago (1994-ish) I had a site that was the third most popular site in Canada, and was basically a directory that highlighted Canadian sites. I had tons of other links but I put a little maple leaf beside the Canadian ones, which at the time was unusual and useful, I suppose.

Anyway, one day I came across this cool site run by a student at Stanford named jyang. The directory was great, though it had a silly name (Yahoo). I sent him an email saying I liked his site and noticed he didn't have a lot of Canadian links. I also wanted to grab a bunch of his. We were both students so we basically agreed to swap links. Later, I decided to use my law degree in the private sector, since I didn't see a great way to monetize my site, at the time.

Anyway, a couple years later, I was walking by a newsstand and noticed that an issue of Barrons featured Yahoo as going IPO. SInce I was working with a small public company at the time (mostly for stock options), I was interested and read the article.

Funny thing was, Barrons thought that the stock was interesting, was concerned about monetization, and didn't really recommend buying. The reviewer said something to the effect that if you bought it, it would likely be a "nice ride".

I had more faith in Jerry's project and bought as much stock as I could on IPO day. Due to how I bought it (long story) I had to sell that day, as well. I remember trying to buy at 9.50 but by the time my broker was able to put in the order it was already at around 18. I sold (reluctantly) a few hours later when it hit 36 or so, netting me a bit of a profit. Not bad for a couple hours work.

My links probably went on to seed Yahoo Canada, and of course I regret not being able to keep my Yahoo shares. I think that's one of the things that got me back into search - thinking back on thosed missed opportunities. I have a similar e-Bay story, as well. <sigh>

I'm not necessarily bullish on "search" per se, but I am and always will be bullish on people wanting to become informed, entertained, and to communicate with each other, which search does well.

I created a "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll" mutual fund back in the 90's, which invested in companies like Playboy, P&G, and Sony, which was lots of fun and made some nice cash for me. I always wanted to create a mutual fund-type portolio based on the search industry. I think it would be cool.

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Old 07-02-2007   #7
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Ian! That's what's up!

I know there are people here savvy enough between search & online marketing, and know what companies to invest in - just because they know.

I mean seriously, if you know the value of a public company that does work in this industry - search, interactive marketing, interactive advertising, ecommerce, tec - then it's logical to at least consider investing in that company.

Going back to Omniture, for example, who decided to get into them? There are threads here talking about Omniture and analytics. Those of us in this industry would know who's good and who's bad.

Actually, if we look at the interactive marketing industry, across the board the public companies are doing well. This is after Aquantive's takeover and talks of a possible buyout of Valueclick (VCLK).

There's Digital River (DRIV), Miva (MIVA), and Traffix (TRFX). All rose up today...looks neat to me
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Old 07-05-2007   #8
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Omniture

I was researching OMTR (I own it and it's good to keep research on stocks you own so you know when to cash in or load up, etc.).

Now, those who watch CNBC or read business books probably have heard of Jim Cramer. He's talked about Google, Yahoo, and of course, Omniture. He actually gets it with Omniture - and one of his sites, TheStreet.com signed up with them.

Anyway, in researching the company, I found a lot of investors who decided to get int Omniture purely on HIS recommendation and not on their own research. And when other investors chime in, they talk about the earnings and take over speculations, blah blah blah.

My take on it is, based on my experience/profession in the search industry, Omniture is a long term play. Those who are SEMs or hiring for SEMs - one of the job requirements I increasingly see is Web Analytics.

Big companies looking to hire in-house people know that analytics is uber important. Analytics = information; user behavior information. Information = mission critical for any website and business.

We, as search professionals, also know that while there are free analytics programs like Google Analytics, the free ones are only effective up to a certain point (features and/or traffic). Once a website crosses a threshold in traffic, the free analytics must become commercial (Google Analytics has a commercial for pay version for larger sites).

Now, when it comes to commercial versions of analytics, Google is no longer a factor. Omniture, Websidestory, Webtrends, and Coremetrix are in the top. Omniture seems to be the darling of the analytics companies. As of now, I'm seeing them as a sponsor of this forum. I dont see Websidestory sponsoring here.

Websidestory, up until a few months ago, was trading as WSSI. It is now VSCN - Visual Sciences, Inc. But, stock price is around $15 per share - a big difference compared to Omniture.

I think for us, we are in a unique position to be VALUE INVESTORS. We see and use the products or services of these companies. We can be a better judge of the value of the stocks - whether it's good or not - based on our more intimate knowledge and experience. Prudent investing is still necessary (such as evaluating whether or not to buy a stock even if you love it - but is it "on sale"?).

Valueclick (VCLK) is another company with talks of possible takeover and seems to be the "best" player so far - but balanced by Digital River (DRIV). Digital River, when looking at the numbers, doesn't look too bad either and may actually be the hidden gem.
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Old 07-05-2007   #9
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Some More to Examine

Taking a look at some stocks today, I decided to look into VCLK, DRIV, and GSIC. These are Valueclick, Digital River, and GSI Commerce respectively.

Now in some stock/company profiles, DRIV is listed in direct competition with GSIC, EDS, and ACN (Accenture).

This is pretty interesting since EDS and ACN are both companies I would not intuitively link with DRIV. But DRIV does engage in a lot more technology and systems development than VCLK does.

Valueclick is strictly focused on advertising and interactive marketing/advertising technology systems. Applications for analysis, driving performance, and leveraged marketing/advertising platforms are Valueclick's focus. Today, at least, it seems to be to their detriment as the stock is not doing so hot. Analysts aren't rating Valueclick very highly either.

GSI is similarly not doing so well today as the stock is down. And analysts don't like them either.

DRIV is doing great - and analysts love this stock. Looking at the financials of all three companies, DRIV does look a lot brighter. At about $48 a share today, it sure doesn't look bad (I'm not a stock analyst so I'm not going into high detail about the P/E or EPS or multiple, etc.)

What's interesting is if we look at the past 1 year for all three stocks, DRIV has been up and down. In fact it's lower than it was just 2 months ago and only a little higher than it was a year ago.

VCLK and GSIC both, however, are up from a year ago - way up. To me, it looks like interactive agencies are worthy of investment - and with the acquisitions of Aquantive, Doubleclick, and Real Media - it may pay to give more attention to the acquisitions goin on in this space.

Refinery - not publicly traded - was acquired by WPPGY - a UK advertising and media firm: http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070705/wpp_refinery.html?.v=1

Could be very interesting to track all of this particularly as the industry seems to be coalescing and the search/interactive realm blends into the larger MEDIA realm.
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Old 07-06-2007   #10
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Funny thing is that my current client is involved in in-depth stock and option research and after thinking about it, I'd say buy the company that makes best sense to you.

I bought Yhoo when YPN came out hoping and hunching that it would really rival AdSense and drive more click revenue to a dinosaur that needed it.

What happened? I lost $8k (not much, but still)

Management and other factors come into play too. Bottom line, when it's your dough, diversify a little, just in case....

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Old 07-06-2007   #11
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Good point. The risk of the stock market still requires someone who knows how to invest, game the market, or whatever.

I wouldn't recommend anyone to "bet" on the stock market, but I am sure there are savvy investors in our industry who are also interested in stocks. And IMHO, given our profession, we can detect a good VALUE stock.

Warren Buffet is the example of a value stock investor. A guiding principle is if you are a customer of the company, then you could be an investor. But the company's financials have to make sense.

Looking at Google vs. Yahoo, GOOG's financials make more sense than Yahoo's. And as you said, other factors like the management makes a big difference.

Even with Terry Semel out of Yahoo (well..the CEO role that is..) Yahoo is still down. If someone is doing a value investment, Yahoo makes no sense. Google seems to do no wrong.
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Old 07-08-2007   #12
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Here's a question to all the International SEOs/SEMs out there. With the news on shoddy Chinese goods increasing to everything from pet food to toothpaste, stock investors - and consumers - are cautious towards China.

Fortunately, the Internet is a little bit more insular from that. Are there people buying into Chinese Internet companies like Baidu (BIDU)?

In this case, BIDU would be either a trade or value stock. Has anyone looked into this?
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Old 07-08-2007   #13
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Baidu isn't so good as a search engine, but it's pretty good at making money. The Chinese have a tendency (I'm obviously talking here about mainland Chinese who are new to the stock market, not people of Chinese descent in general) tend to trade on rumor, so the ride would probably be very, uh,.. interesting...

I don't know about them as a long term hold, but if you are a day trader or have a high tolerance for risk/reward, Baidu could be fun. But I would use my "fun money", not my life savings, if you catch my meaning.

In Asia, Overture is a very good bet, IMO. Google? Iffy. They are considered "too American" by most. Live isn't on the radar at the moment, but should not be considered out.

Where I would be looking is mobile search and advertising.

Ian

PS: The above is personal opinion only. I'm not a stock market expert, related to the above companies, or a shill. I just do a lot of search related activities in Asia. Caveat Emptor.
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Old 07-08-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcanerin
In Asia, Overture is a very good bet, IMO. Google? Iffy. They are considered "too American" by most. Live isn't on the radar at the moment, but should not be considered out.

Where I would be looking is mobile search and advertising.
Very interesting point. If you pay attention to business/investment news, the BIG trades/investments are in international companies. Either Multinational companies or companies outside of the US.

The mobile market is definitely big in Asia and other countries. The advertising bit is interesting - could be worth speculating on some companies with big or growing mobile advertising units.

with the iPhone out - it would be interesting to see how that changes things on the Asian Rim - if it does; have not heard anything from the stock experts tho.
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Old 07-09-2007   #15
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Yeah, I don't know if Baidu is really the Google of China. Google hasn't been in China as long. I'd give "search" in China some more time! Don't forget there may be 1,321,851,888 folks living in China but, I'm pretty sure the country still censors results. Because of censorship, returning relevant results may prove to be "tricky"! As soon as Google figures out how to handle censorship with an algorithm it may be a whole new ball game in China!

I don't know a lick of Chinese but, here is what I get when I compare a Google.com image search for "tiananmen square" with a Google.cn image search for that same term.

Google.com
http://images.google.com/images?um=1...anmen%20square
Google.cn
http://images.google.cn/images?compl...=1&sa=N&tab=wi

As far as Omniture, I have several big name clients who spent $100k+ last year and then dumped Omniture for Google Analytics (Urchin). So, I wouldn't consider Omniture a wise long term investment at all!
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Old 07-09-2007   #16
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That's an interesting point of view regarding OMTR. You might be right in terms of NOT a long term hold because some analysts believe it'll be taken over by this time next year. Which actually makes it a good one to buy now - and sell later...depending on who buys it of course.

...oh if only Google would....

BIDU seems to be doing ok with the share price. But if you are interested in the markets, BIDU could be a good TRADE - but not a long term hold.
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Old 07-09-2007   #17
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This is off-topic, but if you want to see a market discrepancy read it

Quote:
My take on it is, based on my experience/profession in the search industry, Omniture is a long term play. Those who are SEMs or hiring for SEMs - one of the job requirements I increasingly see is Web Analytics.
In the US salaries for fulltime web analytics positions are approaching 100,000$ (adjusted by region/experience). The market is booming.

In Europe, however there are virtually no fulltime web analytics positions available (frequent topic of discussion in the w. analytics industry), yet...lol
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Old 07-09-2007   #18
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Just so there is no confusion, there is a big difference between Omniture (an analytics company) and Overture (which in the US is now Yahoo Search marketing, but in Asia is still a separate, and very successful company).

Yahoo/Overture pretty much *own* search in Japan and have a very strong holding in Korea, Taiwan and China.

Baidu is the most popular search engine in China, but mostly for teens searching for free content, not business people looking for suppliers. Google shows much better in the business and academic world, which of course is where they want to.

Censorship in China is always an issue, but in practice 1) the Chinese don't tend to search for the square - they are usually searching for business ideas, suppliers, etc instead. 2) every search engine in China is censored, not just Google, so there is no inherent advantage of one over the other - level playing field.

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Old 07-09-2007   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewKidOnTheBlock
In the US salaries for fulltime web analytics positions are approaching 100,000$ (adjusted by region/experience). The market is booming.
This is really from left field for me. I remember a couple of years ago NOBODY talked about analytics as a specific skill. It was all looped into "analyze" campaigns or websites.

I guess if companies are investing in commercial analytics programs worth several thousand $$$ a year, it makes sense that they have someone specifically skilled to interpret information for them.

...just a year ago I was still spending time explaining to people the difference between a "hit" and a site visitor. Geez.
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Old 07-09-2007   #20
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Actually it's very interesting to look for a stock play in this industry based on non-US markets. I definitely like Ian's take on mobile marketing/advertising.

YHOO's earnings aren't reflective of their potential of ownership in Asia. That's too bad. Maybe Jerry Yang (as an Asian himself) can see more potential and expansion?

That being said - has anyone looked at interactive marketing agencies as investments?

Valueclick (VCLK), Digital River (DRIV), GSI Commerce (GSIC), and E.W.Scripps (SSP) are companies with interactive marketing components and properties. Not all are exactly the same and/or direct competitors, but they all provide platforms for e-commerce. Valueclick has services, ad-networks, etc. Digital River has the same. GSI does a lot of ecommerce sites. E.W. Scripps has ad-networks and content and portal platforms (like Bizrate) for e-commerce.

While I feel e-commerce retailers are the same as regular retailers - i.e. risky - I find the agencies to be interesting; especially those that are leveraged with different properties.

Anybody with any opinions or thoughts?
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