CNBC talk show host Jim Cramer is known for his loud and outrageous on-screen antics, and earlier this week the “Mad Money” host turned his attention to three real estate companies that recently completed IPOs: Zillow, Trulia and Realogy.
Cramer is pretty adamant that investors should avoid Zillow and Trulia, instead taking a closer look at brokerage house Realogy. But that’s not the most interesting part of this story, since as you’ll see below, Cramer appears to contradict himself in comments he made about Zillow just two months ago.
“Of the three recent housing related IPOs, you need to be careful with Zillow and Trulia,” said Cramer, citing a slowing growth rate in the companies’ revenues and their reliance on online advertising. Strangely, the CNBC news story cites Cramer as saying “stay the heck away” from Zillow and Trulia, while the video and transcript offers the more benign comment of being “careful” when considering the stocks.
Nonetheless, he’s not the first to criticize Zillow. You may recall the highly critical report issued in October by Citron Research, which specializes in shorting stocks. It noted that there are an “array of red flags swarming around Zillow,” pointing out that the company’s “best days are behind it.”
Interestingly, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff appeared on “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer back in September around the same time that the Citron report was issued. Cramer wasn’t too critical at that time, simply asking whether Zillow’s stock was “too hot to handle.”
“I have little doubt that Zillow will wipe the floor of the competition. That’s my take. These online businesses are all about mind share, and Zillow, which has the most users and fastest growth, is the mind share leader. The company has a smart mobile strategy, including a smart app, that’s designed for renters, but man the stock is expensive,” he said.
He concluded after his interview with Rascoff: “Clearly, you have the best story in the group.”
Interestingly, at that time, Zillow’s stock was trading at more than $40 per share. It is now at around $26 per share after getting hammered following its last earnings report.
This week, Cramer countered that the prospects are weakening for Zillow and Trulia, and that the companies don’t have a deep “moat.”
“There’s nothing stopping anyone else from getting in on the action,” he said. “And there are many companies that want in.”
It’s kind of like Cramer vs. Cramer.
Here’s Cramer’s take on Zillow this week, pointing out the weak growth rates from the company’s last quarterly report:
And here’s what he had to say about the company back in September when Rascoff appeared on the show: