I hate Facebook. But it's a better stock than TwitterNovember 7, 2013: 2:06 PM ET
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
I love using Twitter. Some might say I love it too much.
And I really don't like Facebook. I have an account. But it's as barren as the Gobi desert. I mainly use it to see what my wife posts about our two boys. Something about Facebook just creeps me out. Too much information that I don't care about.
Twitter, on the other hand, is a great way to stay on top of news in a hyper real-time manner. I also love getting goofy thoughts about stocks, the economy and pop culture to the masses in a matter of seconds.
But when it comes to Twitter (TWTR) versus Facebook (FB) as investments? Totally different story. I don't own either stock. But if I had to choose one, I'd take Facebook over Twitter. I don't need 140 characters to say why I'd be wary of Twitter either. I can do it in 32.
Why I'd avoid $TWTR? No profits.—
Paul R. La Monica (@LaMonicaBuzz) November 07, 2013
Yes, I realize that Facebook wasn't always profitable. But it was by the time it decided to go public. And Twitter's losses are growing, not shrinking.
Still, what worries me most about Twitter is that it seems to be a one-trick pony for now. That makes it hard for me to justify Twitter's first day pop of 75% from its IPO price. Its market value is already around $25 billion.
To put that in perspective, Facebook, with a market value of around $117 billion, is worth less than 5 times as much as Twitter ... even though Facebook's sales in the first nine months of this year ($5.3 billion) are more than 12.5 times higher than Twitter's $422 million in sales for the first three quarters of 2013.
Facebook has bought Instagram. There is a potential new ad revenue stream there.
Facebook has also launched several new products and features like Graph Search and the mobile app Home (which I admittedly don't use) that could make the company an even more attractive proposition to advertisers.
And Facebook is also expanding beyond advertising. More than 10% of its revenue in the third quarter came from payments and other fees.
I don't see Twitter making similar moves to diversify just yet.
In fact, what I love most about Twitter is how unobtrusive the ads are ... which is precisely why it might be a lousy stock.
I have never clicked on a Promoted Tweet or Promoted Trend. Have you? Why?
Is there any real potential for big ad dollars from Vine, the six-second video service that Twitter has kept separate from the main Twitter service? That's a big wild card.
Twitter #music? I downloaded that new music discovery app for my iPhone the day it launched. I played with it for a few minutes, quickly got bored and haven't touched it since. I don't see Twitter as a legitimate threat to the likes of Pandora (P), Spotify and Apple (AAPL) in online radio.
Now I'll be the first to admit I'm hardly at the cutting edge of tech trends. I didn't join Twitter until 2010 after being dragged kicking and screaming onto it by CNNMoney Big Boss Man @peacockc.
But I'm not a Luddite either. And I get why some tech stocks, even though they may be overvalued, are adored by investors. The revenue and profit streams for Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN), for example, are a lot more obvious than Twitter.
And I still think that Google (GOOG) is by far the best investment in tech for the long-term because it has done the best job of making acquisitions and investing in research and development to launch new products that can keep sales and earnings growing at a healthy clip for a long time.
What's more, I work for a media company. I know firsthand how fickle advertisers can be. And make no mistake about it. Twitter is just simply the 21st century version of a news wire service while Facebook is a souped-up, personalized newspaper.
That's not a criticism. I just don't understand why it makes either of these stocks worth their current price.
I hope my take on Twitter turns out to be woefully wrong. I want the company to succeed. And maybe it will become wildly profitable more quickly than I expect. Hey, I underestimated how quickly Facebook would become a mobile powerhouse after all. And Twitter already has made the mobile transition.
But I haven't drank enough of the Twitter Kool-Aid to make me think that just because I use Twitter for several hours a day, 5 days a week (No tweeting on weekends! Twitter is for work only. More people should turn off their phones on Saturday and Sunday. But that's a different column.) it must be a great stock.
Being cool and popular is nice. Making tons of money is nicer.
Reader Comment of the Week! There was a great story on CNNMoney this week by Emily Jane Fox about the consumer backlash to Kmart's decision to keep stores open all day on Thanksgiving. I also tweeted about how ridiculous I thought it was for the Sears (SHLD)-owned retailer to not give its workers a break on an important holiday.
Come on desperate retailers! Stop the crazy Thanksgiving hours. Give your workers a break! Remind me what Rain Man said about Kmart? $SHLD—
Paul R. La Monica (@LaMonicaBuzz) November 05, 2013
One Twitter follower was similarly bemused.
A lot of traffic, tons of media attention and Kate Moss-thin profit margins? But that's about it.