Facebook IPO Generates Excitement, but Disappoints Many Analysts

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- It was one of the most heavily-anticipated initial public offerings in Wall Street history, but many financial experts say that Facebook's first day of public trading was a bit of a bust.

Facebook set its starting price at $38 a share, but despite a busy trading day that saw volume spike to 567 million shares - a new record for an IPO - shares of the social network started in a college dorm room eight years ago closed the day just 23 cents higher at $38.23 a share.

That represents a windfall for Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who rang the NASDAQ opening bell remotely from the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, but it also fell far short from the $60 a share mark predicted by some analysts before trading began.

Some financial experts are crediting underwriters for stepping in and buying shares of Facebook to keep it from dropping even lower.

Stock brokers with the Scottrade office in Overland Park say that they took double the normal number of calls as usual on Friday from people interested in Facebook stock. They say that much of the interest in Facebook stock comes from first-time and inexperienced investors.

"People who wouldn't necessarily be interested in trading in the market at all coming in (and) opening accounts," said Scottrade branch manager Jeff Tipton. "Everybody is on Facebook, so everybody knows Facebook. It's something that everybody can relate to."

Yet some financial analysts remain skeptical that Facebook shares are a good investment.

"Technologies and tastes change and they change pretty fast in some cases, and so Facebook, we think, is going to have some interesting experiences in trying to keep ahead of those changes," said Scott Kessler, IQ analyst with S&P Financial.

Others say that a big start on Wall Street doesn't mean that the good times will last long.

"We've seen some internet-related IPOs have great first days, like Groupon and LinkedIn have really great debuts, but that doesn't guarantee anything," said Associated Press Money and Markets editor Trevor Delaney.

Groupon debuted at $20 a share, and traded above $30 a share that same day. Now it's trading at under $13 a share. On the other hand, Google's 2004 IPO went for $85 a share - now it's worth more than $600 a share.

Only time will tell if Facebook will trend up like Google or down like Groupon. In the meantime, the demand is keeping local brokers on their feet.

"I hope Monday is a little bit better than today," said Jeff Tipton with a laugh. "A little quieter than today."



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