Facebook Lockup Expiration Frees 60% More Shares


The number of outstanding shares of social media giant Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) increased 60 percent on Thursday, as the company's first major lockup period expired.

Since Facebook's IPO, analysts have become increasingly concerned by the company's poor showing.

Over the next nine months, around 1.91 billion shares will be freed up for trading, compared to the current 500 million that are freely traded. The looming expiration of lockups is a major concern for investors. They are worried that the price of the stock could fall even further on heavy selling from early investors that have been prohibited from selling Facebook stock since the company's May 17 Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Analyst Herman Leung at Susquehanna International Group told Bloomberg, "It's one of the No. 1 issues on investors' minds right now. Even the investors that I talk to who want to buy the stock and like the company are not sure if they can stomach the lockups."

On Monday, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings revealed plans to invest $1 million in Facebook. According to an SEC filing, Hastings acquired 47,846 shares at a price of $21.03 each, costing the Netflix CEO just over $1 million.

Hastings' investment gave Facebook a minor boost on Friday. Facebook shares traded up more than two percent Monday morning, as investors continue to buy into the social networking giant.

While the company has had a number of problems since its IPO, including allegations of click fraud , Facebook continues to be one of the strongest tech companies in the world.

Still, Facebook investors like DST Global, Goldman Sachs, Elevation Partners and Accel Partners got the go-ahead to start selling holdings on Thursday. According to Bloomberg , those sales could mean that Facebook has to work harder to convince investors that it deserves a higher valuation.

The shares that have been freed up are worth roughly $5.75 billion based on Wednesday's closing price.

On Thursday, Facebook traded at about $21.20, up roughly 4 percent.

Follow me @BCallwood .

(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Investing Ideas

Referenced Stocks: FB , NFLX


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