Facebook shares sink 11 percent as reality overtakes hype

Mon May 21, 2012 4:36pm EDT
 
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By Chuck Mikolajczak and John McCrank

(Reuters) - Facebook shares sank 11 percent in the first day of trading without the full support of the company's underwriters, leaving some investors down almost 25 percent from where they were Friday and driving others to switch back to more established stocks.

Facebook's debut was beset by problems, so much so that Nasdaq said on Monday it was changing its IPO procedures. That may comfort companies considering a listing, but does it little for Facebook, whose lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley, had to step in and defend the $38 offering price on the open market.

Even so, one source said Morgan Stanley's own brokers were at one point "ranting and raving" about glitches that left unclear what trades had actually been executed.

Without a fresh round of defense, Facebook shares ended down $4.20, at $34.03, on the Nasdaq. That was a decline of almost 25 percent from Friday's intra-day high of $45 a share.

"At the moment it's not living up to the hype," said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago, adding that some people may have decided to hang back and buy the stock on the decline.

"Look at the valuation on it. It might have said 'buy' to a few people, but boy it was awfully rich," he said.

The drop in Facebook's share price wiped more than $11 billion off of the company's market capitalization -- it became a sufficiently interesting pop culture story that even gossip website TMZ did a brief item Monday morning.

Volume was again massive on Monday, with nearly 168 million shares trading hands, making it by far the most active stock on the U.S. market. Nearly 581 million shares were traded on Friday.   Continued...

 
Monitors show the value of the Facebook, Inc. stock during morning trading at the NASDAQ Marketsite in New York, May 21, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid