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Facebook Under Fire: It’s the Valuation, Stupid! Says Peter Schiff

Jeff Macke
Yahoo! Finance
May 24, 2012

Less than a week after Facebook's IPO there are already rumors that Facebook is considering a move from the Nasdaq to the NYSE. According to Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital, switching exchanges will accomplish nothing for Facebook.

"The problem isn't where it's listed—it's the valuation!" says the author of The Real Crash.

Though valued like a growth company, Schiff thinks Facebook's best days are behind it. "How many people on earth are members? It's not like there's that much opportunity to grow." For the record, there are roughly 6.8 billion people on earth, 901 million of whom have Facebook accounts.

Schiff says Facebook is only the latest example of a flawed system. He blames the regulators, not because there are too few rules, but because there are way too many. The high cost of jumping through regulatory hoops means only more mature, expensive companies can afford to go public. Up until then, the only people invested in a company were Venture Capitalists, Private Equity, and assorted well-connected, well-heeled individuals.

Those lucky few are using the IPO as a chance to cash out to the public. "By the time the average American gets a shot at all, the upside is gone," says Schiff.

In the case of Facebook, the little guys may have gotten doubly hosed. During the road show, the underwriters reportedly lowered earnings estimates prior to the IPO, then only disseminated the news to select institutions and clients.

The specifics of Facebook are different, but in the larger picture Schiff says the Facebook IPO is no different than any other offering. The insiders who are selling know the company is ripe to be sold while the outsiders wager on better days.

Schiff says of the average IPO investor: "You're betting on the come but meanwhile you're paying through the nose." That's not a recipe for investing success.

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