Facebook shares pummeled again

May 23, 2012 7:29 am

, NEW YORK, May 23 – Facebook shares fell further Tuesday even as US markets pushed higher, with investors voting with their feet on what was just a week earlier the most-awaited IPO in years.

At 1530 GMT on the second full day of trade after its much-anticipated Friday debut, the shares were at $33.28, down from Monday’s close of $34.03 and 14 percent lower than the IPO price of $38.00.

In early trade the shares fell as low as $30.98, more than a dollar a share lower than Monday’s floor price.

The selloff wiped off some $16 billion from the $104 billion valuation the company earned in the initial public offering on Friday.

The shares opened solidly higher on Friday, but hours into trade the underwriters were forced to step in to prevent them from dropping below the IPO price. They ended with just a modest 23 cent gain for the day.

On Monday the backers could not hold off the flood of selling pressure, and the shares tumbled again.

The sell-off sparked more finger pointing and anger from those who had expected the price to zoom to massive gains like, for instance, the more than doubling of career-oriented social network LinkedIn’s IPO price late last year.

“Investors are searching for someone to blame and there are plenty of suspects,” said Paul Ausick at 24/7Wall St.

Analysts blamed the underwriters, especially lead banker Morgan Stanley, for allowing the social networking giant last week to increase the price and the offering size to 421 million shares.

That made the $16 billion IPO the country’s second largest ever — but it was apparently more than the market could stomach.

Although the conclusion that the issue was overpriced was widespread, analysts were less willing to predict the direction of trade after Tuesday’s fall.

“The downward move in the stock price has been swift, but predicting short-term swings is truly a challenge,” said Rick Summer of Morningstar.

But also underpinning the fall has been the realization by many that there are questions about Facebook’s revenue-generating potential, given that its advertising business remains a work in progress.

“We do believe that the company still faces near-term challenges. Slowdown in revenue growth and declines in operating margins may further pressure the stock price,” said Summer.

Facebook itself also came in for some hits for being greedy in the IPO, which came at a time in which markets were generally skittish over more turmoil in the eurozone and Greece’s possible withdrawal from the euro.

In raising funds, Facebook “did get what was obviously top dollar, but at the cost of leaving many of its fans with a bad taste in their mouths, not to mention losses on their investments,” said finance writer Floyd Norris in The New York Times.


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