Thursday, November 08, 2007

Paperstand (AKAM, LLNW, ADVS, USTR)

The WSJ’s “Heard on the Street” column out saying that the share prices of Akamai (AKAM) and Limelight (LLNW) could go even lower. Despite the growth in online content, the stocks of Akamai and Limelight have plunged. Since mid-July, Akamai's shares have dropped 26%, while the stock price of Limelight, which went public in June, has slid 53%. And Wall St. doesn't think the situation will improve soon. "There's plenty more room for [Akamai and Limelight] to fall," says Scott Kessler, of S&P. Mr. Kessler has a Sell rating on Akamai. Akamai and Limelight shares remain expensive even after their recent declines, analysts say. Limelight is trading at a P/E ratio of 94x estd earnings for the next 12mo’s, far above the tech industry's avg of about 21x earnings. Akamai is trading at a P/E ratio of about 24x future 12mo earnings. "In the past, there was some justification for Akamai's high stock b/c it operated in a near-monopoly, but it's different today," Mr. Kessler says. "It's too expensive even now."

Barron’s Online discusses Advent Software (ADVS), saying that the co has decent prospects for sales growth, and bulls appreciate the co's strong cash flow. But at a recent price of $54, the co trades at a jaw-dropping 114x next year's estd EPS. Even on a cash basis, Advent is pricey. Advent was a favored stock for a time in the late '90s, briefly hitting an all-time closing high of $75.50 in Sep 2000, right before banks and everyone else stopped buying software; subsequently, its shares cratered to $9. Many of the same glowing remarks made of Advent today were said back then, and they're unlikely to stop what may well be a shift of more and more money into comfortable large-cap stocks like Microsoft, Google and Apple. Their shares are performing like never before as the co’s find unexpected sources of growth.

“Inside Scoop” reports that heavy insider selling at United Stationers (USTR) may indicate that the tides may be changing. From Nov. 2 to 5, two senior execs grossed $14.9m by selling more than 251K shares acquired through options. Roughly 320K options were exercised for $8.5m. They were not set to expire for at least 5ys. Another 68K shares were sold for $4.1m to cover the taxes related to the transactions. These sales cast a shadow over what has been a tremendous run-up in the stock in recent years. "I would say that the sales coming now are a bit concerning," says Ben Silverman, of

1 comment:

stormbird8 said...

The article also confirms Stanford analyst has a buy recommendation on Akamai:

Adds Mike Afergan, Akamai's chief technology officer: "We've always seen competition and have been able to overcome it and it's no different now."

To counter the competition, Akamai and Limelight are working to expand beyond their main customers of media and entertainment companies. They are aggressively courting more corporate and government clients and are rolling out software tools to help media companies better understand how consumers access their data.

Some analysts remain positive on Akamai and Limelight. Rodney Ratliff, an analyst at investment bank Stanford Group Co., says the growth of Internet traffic has made content delivery a necessity. Many companies won't let cheaper prices be the sole arbiter of who they choose for content delivery and some customers will naturally gravitate to the incumbents, he adds.

Mr. Ratliff has a "buy" rating on Akamai and doesn't own the stock.