Online social networking mogul
) is scheduled to start trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market
today at around 11.00 a.m. Yesterday, its much-hyped initial public
offering (IPO) yielded approximately $16 billion from 33 investment
banks, led by
). Given Facebook's size, the investment banks underwriting the
issue are expected to charge as much as 3% of the proceeds as their
At the time of IPO filing, Facebook's price band was $28 to $35
per share. However, earlier this week (May 15, 2012), Facebook
raised the price range to $34 to $38 per share and the very next
day (May 16, 2012) the company increased the size of the offering
by 25% to 421 million, representing a 15% float. Facebook
eventually priced its IPO at $38.00 per share, implying that retail
investors will be able to buy the stock at this price.
Facebook's agreement with the underwriters also has a
"Greenshoe" option, which means that the underwriters can sell up
to 15% extra shares above the 421 million offered. If this option
is exercised, the number of shares is expected to increase by at
least 3% which will fetch another $2.4 million, thus making this
the second largest IPO in the U.S. after
Facebook- A Brief History
Currently valued at $104 billion, Facebook is considered the
pioneer of online social networking. Formed within the walls of a
Harvard dormitory in 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg and his college
friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin, the
company has come a long way and now boasts of more than 900 million
The startup received investments from venture capitalists and
institutional investors such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who
is currently a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Thiel is
expected to gain $640 million for his 17 million shares. Some other
eminent initial investors include Reid Hoffman, co-founder of
) and Mark Pincus, founder of the social gaming giant
). Both of them are expected to garner $34.0 million and $36.3
million from the IPO.
Among the institutional investors, venture capitalist Accel
Partners is selling the largest stake and is expected to gain
approximately $1.77 billion. One of the biggest investors, DST
Global Ltd and its affiliates (run by Russian millionaire Yuri
Milner) is expected to gain $1.74 billion by selling a total of
45.7 million shares. Another prominent investor was
), whose 28.7 million shares are expected to fetch more than $1
However, the biggest gainer will be Mark Zuckerberg. The 28-year
old founder is expected to sell 30.2 million shares for
approximately $1.15 billion, retaining 503.6 million shares or 32%
of Facebook's total shares (total stake valued at $19.1 billion @
$38 per share). Most importantly, Mr. Zuckerberg will continue to
hold 56.0% of the voting rights, which means that he will continue
to be the final decision making authority.
Facebook- Financials, Fundamentals and Valuation
Given its current valuation, Facebook is larger than a host of
U.S. tech behemoths including
). Its IPO is the third largest globally, behind two Chinese banks,
Agricultural Bank of China in 2010 ($133 billion) and Industrial
and Commercial Bank of China in 2006 ($132 billion), according to
financial data provider Dealogic.
According to Reuters, Facebook's $38 share price reflects 100
times historical earnings compared to
) 14 times and
) 19 times, which many analysts consider lofty. This was primarily
due to the not-so-impressive March quarter results.
In its May 9 amendment to the S1 filing, Facebook reported
revenues of $1.06 billion, up 45.0% year over year in the three
months ended March 31, 2012. However, operating income declined
slightly to $381.0 million from $388.0 million reported in the
year-ago quarter, primarily due to a significant increase in
operating expenses (97% year-over-year). Facebook reported earnings
of 9 cents, which declined slightly from 11 cents reported in the
The only concern clouding Facebook's outlook is regarding its
revenue from mobile products, which the company stated that is not
significant. Although Facebook reported 488 million monthly average
users (MAU) for its mobile products as of March 31, the company
expressed doubts regarding the success of its monetization efforts
in the mobile segment.
This is primarily due to the fact that historically Facebook has
been totally focused on the desktop segment. Hence its applications
were cumbersome for mobile users and small windows of mobile
phones. Also, Facebook has never really had any ad coverage on
mobile platforms. In March this year, Facebook included sponsored
stories in users' mobile for the first time in its history.
However, mobile is a different ballgame altogether. Unlike
personal computers, mobile users navigate much faster over their
devices and applications as they are mainly done on the move.
Hence, mobile applications need to be smart, simple and fast. Ads
along with these applications need to be much catchier and less
time consuming than the ads aimed at desktops.
In its quarterly report, Facebook noted that higher usage of
mobile devices boosted its daily active users (DAUs) much more
rapidly than the number of ads delivered in the March quarter.
Facebook reported 526 million daily active users (DAUs) on average
in March 2012, an increase of 41% year over year. We believe that
Facebook will take some time to generate significant ad revenue
from mobile products.
The effectiveness of ads on Facebook is also under question
since automobile maker
) announced its decision to drop paid ads. According to Reuters,
General Motors said that Facebook ads were less effective compared
to Google's AdSense.
Although Facebook instantly received a pat on the back from
) on the effectiveness of its ads over traditional media, we
believe that the company will need to take some damage control
measures to prevent further slide in its advertising client base.
Facebook reported advertising revenue of $872.0 million, up 37%
year over year in the March quarter.
Facebook's IPO has generated a lot of expectations and hype.
Over the last 18 months, the market has seen a number of
social-media IPOs which include
). But none of them were of such magnitude and popularity. We
expect strong demand from retail investors to boost share prices in
the opening session.
We believe that Facebook is well positioned to grow over the
long term based on its large customer base and proven business
model. The company enjoys a first mover advantage in the social
networking market. Although advertising revenue has somewhat slowed
down in recent months, we note that non-advertising revenues
increased five fold in 2011.
This is the revenue Facebook earns from third party developers
and through the sale of Facebook Credits (a form of virtual
currency). As more and more third party developers flock to
Facebook, we believe that non-advertising revenue will increase
However, increasing competition from established players such as
Google as well as new entrants, uncertainty in the mobile segment
and Mr. Zuckerberg's continuing dominance can limit upside going
forward. Currently, Facebook has a Zacks #3 Rank, which implies a
Neutral rating over the short term (1-3 months).
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