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Is AirBnB stock a buy right now?


airbnbThe massive IPO by AirBnB (AirBnB Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts NASDAQ:ABNB) certainly generated a lot of hype —perhaps a bit too much, says Lorne Steinberg of Lorne Steinberg Wealth Management, who claims the stock now has a lot of future success already built into the share price.

“I have to say Airbnb is an amazing company but not a Lorne Steinberg stock, only because it’s got a $100-billion market cap,” said Steinberg, speaking on BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.

“You’re buying this company that’s anticipating massive growth over the next many years. That may very well happen but it’s difficult for anyone with any kind of value to make a bet on that, especially at these levels,” he said.

Originally pegged at an initial public offering price of $68 per share — which would’ve put the company’s value at about $40 billion — AirBnB smashed through with an opening day start of $146 per share on December 10 and closed its Day 1 at $144.71, making for a market cap of about $86.5 billion. (All figures in US dollars.)

The vacation rental and travel platform came to its IPO with over a decade of business under its belt but without showing an annual profit for any of those years, although it has had positive earnings on occasion, including its latest quarter. For its fiscal third quarter, the company saw revenue drop by 19 per cent year-over-year in a pandemic-influenced period (AirBnB reported an 80-per-cent drop in business over the eight weeks of April and May), while at the same time posting a profit of $219 million. AirBnB generated $38 billion in bookings in 2019 with a loss of $674 million.

And while its disruption of the hotel industry is far from complete, giving AirBnB more runway ahead of it, Steinberg said there are obvious limits to the company’s growth potential, ones which the average investor should keep in mind when contemplating buying the stock.

“It’s a case of one of these incredible technology companies where a chunk of [growth] is already built into the share price, here with the $100 billion market cap,” Steinberg said.

“We don’t expect this to be another trillion dollar company, so I have to say I can’t buy it,” Steinberg said. “It’s pure speculation.”

Steinberg’s position seems to have a number of supporters, including tech investor Paul Meeks who said this week on CNBC that AirBnB’s IPO was “ridiculously overvalued.” Meeks said he was involved in the IPO but sold his position, contending that the 140-per-cent increase in the stock isn’t justifiable.

Going one step further, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said the inflated debuts of AirBnB and food delivery company DoorDash are reminiscent of the dot-com bubble 20 years ago where valuations went sky-high before crashing.

“I don’t want to say that the market is broken but the process of how we’re doing these deals is definitely broken. This is what happened in 1999 where the syndicate desk just completely misjudged the public,” said Cramer, on CNBC on December 11. “[Today], the public is back, and they’re pricing deals as if the public isn’t back, and it’s the same old funds buying stock.”

“I think there’s money that basically says, ‘We don’t really care what that opening price is going to be,’” Cramer said. “There’s not going to be a lot of discipline in a lot of these market buyers. They’re not going to put a price limit on it.”

Portfolio manager Barry Schwartz of Baskin Financial said both AirBnB and DoorDash, which was valued at $39 billion at its IPO earlier this month, have strong prospects, even if the stock prices may seem high.

“Is the valuation absurd? Only time will tell,” said Schwartz to the CBC on December 10. “If in five years they are not profitable or don’t look like they are going to be, then, yeah, they are completely overvalued and people made huge mistakes.”

Schwartz said both AirBnB and DoorDash are “really high-quality businesses” and that the current crop of IPOs “is not your parent’s bubble.”

After its IPO, AirBnB was downgraded by Wall Street research firm Gordon Haskett from “Buy” to “Underperform,” with the take being that ABNB’s valuation is “more than stretched.”

For a contrasting perspective, market analyst Gina Sanchez of Chantico Global has said AirBnB has a lot of room to grow and that the company will benefit from the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines around the globe in 2021.

If you look at the network of Airbnb, Expedia has yet to get the kind of levels and volume that Airbnb has managed to garner through the building of its network. So those network benefits cannot be underestimated here,” Sanchez said to CNBC’s Trading Nation on December 11.

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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