Groupon shares surge but concerns linger

Fri Nov 4, 2011 5:05pm EDT
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By Clare Baldwin and Alistair Barr

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The shares of daily deals site Groupon Inc rose as much as 56 percent in their stock market debut on Friday, with at least some of the exuberance the result of the small number of shares sold.

The shares rose as high as $31.14, or 55.7 percent above the IPO price, in early trading on the Nasdaq, at one point pushing the market value of the company to $19.9 billion. The shares later eased to close at $26.11, 31 percent above their $20 IPO price, giving the company a market value of about $16.7 billion.

Groupon had the third-highest trading volume on the Nasdaq on Friday, with nearly 50 million trades.

Groupon sells Internet coupons for everything from spa treatments to nose jobs and is one of this year's most closely watched IPOs.

The offering, one of the largest in recent years, may be a barometer of investor appetite for IPOs. A strong first few trading days could help other private Internet companies -- such as Angie's List, Zynga and even Facebook -- pursue their own IPOs.

There is a huge backlog of companies that filed to go public earlier this year. Most put their plans on hold when the stock market slumped in August. Groupon is the first major IPO since then.

Chief Executive Andrew Mason and Chairman Eric Lefkofsky hugged in Times Square after ringing the opening bell on the Nasdaq. Employees at company headquarters in Chicago donned lime green T-shirts emblazoned with the company's ticker symbol "GRPN" printed in old, ticker-tape-style lettering.

The company declined Reuters' requests for interviews. One employee in Chicago, who declined to give his name, said workers had been discouraged from speaking to the media. Several uniformed security guards walked the perimeter of the building, keeping an eye on Groupon workers who came outside on their cigarette breaks.   Continued...