At the end of Facebook’s first day of public trading, its shares were selling for around 9.5 percent less than their opening price.
By the time the closing bell rang, the stock ticker symbol FB sat at $38.37, according to NASDAQ’s final stats, down from its $42 opening price and about even with its original offering price of $38.
Analysts who had previously been bullish on Facebook are surprised. Early investors are disappointed. And social media enthusiasts are at least somewhat shocked.
“Our Private Shares Group traded stock the week before the first S-1 at $45, and we did a lot of volume. The market clearly supported a share price in the $40s,” said Michael Pachter, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities.
“But Facebook showed a sequential decline in revenue in Q1, so it is likely that some investors were spooked and began to question the company’s growth prospects,” he continued.
“I have a $44 one-year price target, so it’s a great investment below that level, not as good an investment above that level.”
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Calling the $38 price “fair,” Dunn & Bradstreet tech expert Lee Simmons said before the closing bell, “Facebook was less likely to rocket out of the gates on opening day… My educated guess places Facebook comfortably above the top-end of its price range on Friday.”
Still, touting the site’s billion-strong userbase, investors are pegging Facebook stock as a good bet for the long haul.
“I think it is a good long-term investment,” said Mark Siegel, managing partner at Menlo Ventures. “The nature of the product itself makes it difficult to be displaced … I think it’s that kind of a core, bellwether company in a tech sector. It’s gotten there remarkably fast, but it’s there.”
However, Siegel noted he expected short-term “volatility” in Facebook’s performance and said there is “no way, not a chance” it would see the eight-fold growth that competitor Google has had since its 2004 IPO.
“There’s going to be a lot of crazy demand by people, but I don’t think it’s going to get to $60 [any time soon],” the VC continued. “In the next couple of years, it might trade at $60 per share, but … I think institutional investors would start getting heartburn before it got up that high.”
But this low closing price isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Facebook, points out Gartner analyst Ray Valdez.
“Well-managed IPOs reward initial sellers (early investors and the company itself) with robust prices that don’t leave too much money on the table,” he said.
“Facebook’s revenue model is still a work in progress. The mobile sector will remain a challenge for Facebook in the short-term. Over the long-term, Facebook has a good chance of cracking the code of monetizing user engagement across platforms, but accomplishing this will require significant innovation in both business and technology domains.”
David-Michel Davies, president of The Webby Awards and co-founder of Internet Week New York, had the honor of ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange. “There’s been a huge focus on … what this means for the future of the web and what this means for other IPOs,” he told us in a phone conversation.
And despite the social network’s inauspicious debut, Davies and millions like him remain optimistic about the future of Facebook and of other, smaller social media companies.
“At the end of the day, it’s hard to overstate how important social is to the web,” he said. “We’re living in a world where people have changed behaviors in a significant way. People now will start their day in a social environment and make a lot of important decisions for their life there — what to buy, what to eat, where to go at night, what books to read.
“It’s a really big change, and it’s not going away… This is definitely a big moment, and this IPO showcases how big that change is.”