Navellier’s “The Google of 2008”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, February 6, 2008

So … another stock that’s going to be the “next Google!” Man, how can we go wrong with that?

Let me count the ways … just in the last six months or so, Navellier’s next Google was IncrediMail, and Tobin Smith’s was Synchronoss … not so good for either one just yet. And many other newsletter editors (or their advertising copywriters) made that “next Google” claim, too, it’s almost as tempting as making the “next Berkshire Hathaway” claim.

So, regardless of how true such a claim can ever be, let’s give this one a look-see.

Navellier’s latest teaser email tells us that we need to invest in “clock builders,” the people who develop and bring innovative products to market to change the way consumers think and buy.

In his words, “The big winners of 2008, as of every year since I launched Emerging Growth in 1980, will exhibit what you might call The Dyson Effect.”

That’s a reference to James Dyson, the grating (to me, at least) English inventor who brought us the remarkably heavy, colorful, and, apparently, effective space-age Dyson vacuum cleaners.

“Clock builders set the pace. They know they’re only as good as their last idea. They keep the earnings pedal to the metal, eating, sleeping, dreaming of the next breakthrough.”

Here’s Navellier’s assessment of the founder of the company he’s teasing here:

“The owner named his company after himself for the very good reason that his is the self-proclaimed Messiah of ‘Hi-Definition Sound.’ It’s his life-work, his obsession—and his 91% ownership of a class of voting stock makes it clear: this company IS the founder. In short, we’ve found Jobs in 1982, we’ve found Google’s Brin in 1998, gosh we’ve found Michael Dell in 1990.”

Leaving aside how disturbing it is that he apparently had to proclaim himself the Messiah (how sad!), I think we’ve got most of what we need in that paragraph … but there are a few more clues:

950 patents and 850 trademarks.
“Earnings up 77%—a 56% earnings surprise.”
Sales growth of 26%.
“Guidance: Up to $600 million in sales in 2008, from $482 million in 2007.”

So … figured this one out yet? The mighty Gumshoe Thinkolator has been humming along in the background, and I can tell you with certainty that this teased “next Google” is …

Dolby Laboratories (DLB)

Sound familiar? That’s right, this has been a favorite stock of the Motley Fool recently, too, they’ve been selling it as the “next Intel” in their Stock Adviser newsletter ads.

The clues match up and Navellier is accurate in painting the best case scenario, at least, for this one. Dolby is controlled by its founder (that “Messiah”, Ray Dolby), who owns super voting shares, so he can do pretty much whatever he wants with the company — which can be either good or bad. That’s part of why Tom Gardner likes this one, too, I assume, since he has a serious fondness for founder CEOs and heavy insider ownership (with good reason, in most cases).

And the company is quite expensive, in my book — it is growing, which is what Navellier primarily cares about, but if the analysts are at all correct it’s also fully priced to incorporate that growth rate. The PEG ratio is right around 2, which is the maximum that many folks will pay for a growth company (Google, by contrast, is at .71, and Intel is at .88). So if you buy this one you’re really counting on significant growth levels that outpace what analysts are currently predicting. Morningstar’s analyst pegs it at a fair value of $27, so this is one case where Morningstar and the Motley Fool are not on the same page (the current share price is right around $47, the price Navellier says to “buy under”).

How does Dolby make money? For the most part, they collect royalties on all the devices that are sold with their hi-definition sound technology. In the past ten years or so, most of those royalties have come from DVD players, and the reason some folks are skeptical of Dolby is that a fair amount is riding on their ability to get thei