Facebook Shares Close Up Slightly

Posted May 18th, 2012 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Facebook, the world's biggest social media website, started selling stock to the public on Friday, with an initial share price of $38.

But contrary to some investors' hopes, the stock price did not soar in the first day's trading. After jumping more than 10 percent in the first few minutes of trading, Facebook shares closed at $38.23 each.

Despite the lukewarm start, analysts say trading volumes were high. The stock is being traded under the symbol, “FB.”

Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, signaled the start of trading on the Nasdaq exchange in New York by remotely ringing a bell from company headquarters across the continent in California.

The popular social networking site, with 900 million users worldwide, raised more than $16 billion from the stock sale. That is one of the biggest stock debuts in U.S. corporate history and rivaled only by financial services company Visa and automaker General Motors. The stock offering drove Facebook's value to at least $104 billion, making it one of the most valuable U.S. companies.

Zuckerberg, who turned 28 earlier this week, started the popular social networking site just eight years ago in his college dorm room at Harvard. As investors bought shares, they became part owners of the ubiquitos and recognized company, but Zuckerberg will still control more than 55 percent of Facebook's voting stock.

Some analysts are advising clients to wait and see whether the company can still continue to grow and how much advertising it can sell before buying shares.

Facebook's advertising revenue growth has slowed in recent months, and doubts about its long-term viability were heightened earlier this week when General Motors announced it was pulling its paid advertising off the website.

“The reality is, I think a lot of investors are really going to be very much focused on the short-term financial results, but because the company and its CEO presumably won't be, we think there are going to be ample opportunities for disconnects in the marketplace which could disappoint and frustrate some.”

Facebook has also yet to devise a strategy to attract advertising on mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.

People use Facebook to post photographs and write details about their lives, often reconnecting with long-lost friends and family members.