If you follow the market at all, then you know that the Facebook IPO is today. Originally set to open between $28 and $35, Facebook (Ticker: FB) will actually open by selling 421 million shares at $38 per share. This means that Facebook will be raising a total of $16 billion and will give it a total value of over $100 billion since it’s not selling all of its shares. In comparison, when Google has its IPO in 2004, it only raised $1.67 billion.
Because Facebook is integrated into so many of our lives, it’s easy to see why there would be a lot of hype amongst investors. That fact, coupled with the normal frenzy that can accompany a “hot” tech IPO, and I suspect there’s danger lurking around the corner. Zynga and Groupon, both of which went public last year, are trading below their initial share prices. Facebook will also be debuting at a steep PE ratio (price-to-earning ratio) of 100. That definitely puts it at the top of the heap, which means it will require large growth to achieve the profits that are expected of it. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s priced too high. Amazon has a $100B market cap also, and it trades at a P/E of 179.
If you remember IPOs of the late 1990s and early 2000s, then you’ll probably recognize that this IPO isn’t following the same hype-generating recipe. During these IPOs, companies underpriced initial offerings to build hype and see a significant “pop” in their share price. But this isn’t just an old play. Zillow popped by 79% and LinkedIn by 109%.
While I don’t give investment advice, I don’t think this is an IPO where you’re going to see a significant pop. However, if you do decide to buy today, and you do see a significant pop, I’d definitely consider selling and locking in those gains. If you want some non-investment perspective on the IPO, check out Forbes’ 10 reflections on Facebook’s IPO.