Opening the year with a new portfolio position

Happy New Year!

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, January 5, 2015

Hello, all! I’ve missed you in our holiday hiatus — and my apologies that the hiatus was extended a bit due to a nice bout of New Year Flu, but we should be back on track now.

This first note is just to let the Irregulars know that I’ve made my first portfolio adjustment for the new year — and as I mentioned would probably happen when I wrote about the company in November, that adjustment was the exercise of my Facebook call options to open a new equity position in Facebook (FB).

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So, yes, I just made Facebook one of my largest positions. And it’s one of the most ridiculously valued large cap stocks on a PE or Price/Book basis on the market, even at my adjusted cost of $65 or so. So why buy?

Well, the immediate answer is that my options were expiring and I didn’t want a tax bill. The question was whether I wanted to book a gain and pay taxes next year (this one happened to be in a taxable account, most of my holdings aren’t) or exercise the options and perhaps extend that tax liability if, as I intend, I can hold Facebook shares for at least a few years.

But that’s a little specious — it’s nice to push off the tax bill further, but tax considerations shouldn’t ever be the only reason to make an investment move. The larger question is whether or not I like Facebook as a long term investment at anywhere near the current price… and I do.

This is obviously a growth stock, not a value pick or an income play or a “hidden asset” kind of investment. It’s all about whether their numbers will continue to go up — and I see no sign of that stopping. Analysts did a backtrack on their projections after the last quarterly report because Facebook was very up-front about their plans to invest more heavily in future growth, which scared them into dropping their forward earnings estimate for 2015 by a dime or so on average (down to $1.91 now, by the latest average I checked)… but of course, at the same time Facebook has continued to earn far more than the analysts have been expecting in each of the past four quarters and the current year estimates have thus ...

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