Facebook stock tumbles 11%

By Jeremy C. Owens San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — After Facebook stock narrowly stayed above the initial public offering price during its first day of trading, the price fell hard and fast Monday, knocking more than 10 percent off the company’s record-breaking initial valuation.

Facebook executed its highly anticipated IPO Thursday evening, pricing shares at $38 for total proceeds of $16 billion at a record valuation of $104 billion. Predictions of a big first-day increase in the stock price were rampant, but they fizzled Friday, as shares opened at $42 and almost immediately fell, staying below that mark for the rest of the session.

Shares finished Friday at $38.23, 0.6 percent higher than the price investors paid for IPO stock. Friday reports said the banks that underwrote Facebook’s IPO stepped in to buy stock when shares dipped near $38 on the first day of trading in order to ensure the stock closed above that level.

Without the help of the IPO underwriters, Facebook shares opened Monday at $36.53, but that price immediately dropped to below $36; in the first 30 minutes of trading, shares sold for as low as $33, a decrease of 13.7 percent from Friday’s closing price. Facebook stock closed at $34.03, 11 percent off Friday’s closing price and more than 10 percent lower than the price investors paid for IPO shares.

At that price, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook holdings are worth about $17.14 billion, or about $2.11 billion less than Friday.

Confounding those bullish on Facebook stock even more was Wall Street’s overall strength Monday: All three major U.S. stock indexes rose at least 1.1 percent, led by the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index at 2.5 percent.

Other social media stocks were mixed Monday after steep falls at the end of last week. LinkedIn, Yelp and Zynga all plunged for the third consecutive day early in Monday’s session, but Yelp bounced back from its lowest closing price ever with a solid gain of 3.5 percent. Mountain View professional-networking site LinkedIn experienced an up-and-down trading day, falling by as much as 6.8 percent and rising by as much as 1.4 percent; at the close, it had declined 2.2 percent.

Facebook was founded in a Harvard dorm room by Zuckerberg and college classmates in 2004, and has grown to 900 million users in just nine years. However, analysts and investors are concerned that its popularity may not lead to strong revenues, as the company had only $3.7 billion in sales last year and has struggled to determine how to monetize its popularity on mobile devices.

“Investors are increasingly aware of the risk embedded in the stock price. There are real concerns about growth and advertisers’ frequent lack of certainty how best to use Facebook, along with rising costs and ongoing acquisition risk,” Pivotal Research Group Brian Wieser told Reuters.