Wall Street Whistleblower: At Millionaire.com, the Web Site of the Rich and Famous By Gregg Wirth Staff Reporter 12/22/98 11:24 AM ET
Want a Rolls-Royce? Get it on the Internet -- and a house in Tuscany, too.
Customers with these desires are what Millionaire.com (MLRE:OTC BB) wants. The newly public company, formed last week through a merger of a small private company with a rarely traded public shell, hopes to become the eBay (EBAY:Nasdaq) of the upper class. With eBay and other Internet stocks rallying again this week, Millionaire.com doesn't want to miss its chance.
Investors already seem to be buying into the vision, despite a dearth of available financial information about the company. Millionaire.com has seen its stock increase more than fivefold in the first four days of trading. It reached a new high yesterday of 16, eclipsing Friday's record high of 11 1/2. It closed Monday at 14, up 4, on volume of 1.4 million shares, before giving up 2 5/8, or 19%, Tuesday morning to trade at 11 3/8.
Such volume and price run-ups may not be unusual these days, especially an Internet stock. However, there are stark differences between Millionaire.com and other highflying Internet stocks. Primarily, Millionaire.com is the offspring of a penny stock and trades on the over-the-counter bulletin board. This could make liquidity a problem since bulletin-board stocks tend to be thinly traded and sometimes difficult to sell, especially if many holders decide to bail out at once.
Also, the company doesn't report financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission, making a true evaluation of its financial health difficult.
The company says it's creating an online commerce and auction house for luxury goods, including "fantasy shopping, art, antiques, exotic travel, yachts, classic autos, real estate, premium cigars, fine dining, interior design, high-tech electronics, gems, collectibles, watches and wine." The Web site is expected to be up and running by Jan. 15.
The company also owns Millionaire magazine, which is printing its first issue under new management. It's due at newsstands next month. In addition, the company has a new 20,000-square-foot auction house in Hilton Head, S.C., scheduled to open before year's end.
Millionaire.com was formed in a merger last week after it acquired a public shell called Charter Investor Relations of North America, which had traded on the OTC bulletin board under the ticker CRNA. As part of the merger, Millionaire.com changed its name from Lifestyle Media and raised $1 million to do the deal. The company also established headquarters in Bluffton, S.C.
Lifestyle Media, previous publisher of Millionaire magazine, was acquired by Robert "Rusty" White shortly before the merger into the public shell. White founded the Robb Report, a magazine for the affluent, in 1968, then sold it in 1983. He now is heading up Millionaire.com.
Millionaire.com recently purchased some good press through one of those paid stock-touting Web sites. Millionaire.com issued 50,000 shares of restricted stock, now worth roughly $700,000, to Small Cap Journal for mention as a feature company on its Web site. Small Cap Journal is operated by Fortune Marketing & Capital Consultants, which has been retained as Millionaire.com's investor- and media-relations firm.
Steve Samblis, Fortune Marketing's president, says Millionaire.com will cross-market its Web site, magazine and auction house to maximize revenue. The revenue will initially come from advertising, but eventually will flow from the sale of assets, such as wine, cigars and art, that could be auctioned as well, Samblis says. "I think we will redefine how you go after these markets," he adds.
Laughing off the inevitable question of whether wealthy sophisticates will really sit at their computers and guide a mouse to buy a Rolls-Royce, Samblis says, "Well, [Rolls-Royces] will be available."
There are neither revenue nor earnings projections available, Samblis says, adding that the company wants to be judged on its performance since it's a new venture.
The company has peppered the investing public with press releases, about one a day since the merger, including an announcement Monday morning that it inked an agreement with SGD International for $8 million in advertising in the magazine.
SGD International is a trading and bartering company based in New York. Its president, Jerry Galuten, says he agreed to buy $8 million in advertising in the magazine over the next three years. Galuten says he was unaware Millionaire.com even had a Web site.
Samblis says the company wants to book the $8 million advertising agreement from SGD International as a receivable asset, pending approval from its auditors. That asset could allow Millionaire.com to qualify for a Nasdaq listing, Samblis explains.
The company has 6.7 million shares outstanding (after a 3-for-1 split during the merger), and about 78% of the shares are in "management's and friendly hands," according to Samblis.
Investors commenting on the stock via the online message boards were ecstatic about the chance to join the upper crust -- if not in the real world, then online. One message-board poster on Silicon Investor pointed out the irony that, presumably, most of the company's shareholders could afford to buy the stock but none of the products that were going to be sold on Millionaire.com. Other investors seemed to be swept up by the climbing stock price. "What is due diligence?" asked one erstwhile newbie during Friday's run-up. "Is it too late now to get in?"