Friday, July 22, 2016

Greater Fool Theory

The "greater fool theory" is a basic principle in the financial markets and real estate. If one buys something it is a good deal only if someone else at a later time will pay you more.

Now in business reasonable people examine revenue potential, look at cash flows on a projected basis, consider contingencies.

In the mid 90s I taught a finance course at Columbia Business School and one case was AOL. I saw it as a total zero. My students saw it differently. Warner bought it and it almost destroyed the company.

Now Verizon wants Yahoo. Why? What "value" does it have? Verizon has assets in licenses, exclusive rights to ever increasing assets. Yahoo has nothing. As a shareholder and former executive, I really wonder who came up with this idea.

As the NY Times reports:

The end of Yahoo as an independent company may be near, and Verizon — long considered the leading contender to buy the aging web pioneer — is the most likely acquirer. The two companies are in advanced talks over a takeover of Yahoo that could be worth close to $5 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Friday. Any transaction would be for Yahoo’s core internet business, although it is unclear whether a deal would also include other assets like real estate or patents. Both companies are hoping to announce a deal as early as next week, this person said. Verizon is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday. Still, no final deal has been reached and the talks could still falter, the person cautioned. One of the other finalists could also re-emerge with a higher bid. A spokesman for Verizon declined to comment, while a Yahoo spokeswoman said the company would not comment “until we have a definitive agreement to announce” because it wanted to maintain “the integrity of the process.” 

How does one monetize this company. It has not for wont of trying, yet they are still a dead pig. Verizon is in the infrastructure business. It has never, and I mean never, demonstrated its ability in content. Look at AOL. Now egos may drive the deal but from a fiduciary duty perspective it should be cash flow. That is currently elusive.