Facebook shares dropped nearly 12 percent to $33.76 — below the company’s final $38 price in the company’s highly anticipated initial public offering last week. Today is an interesting test for Facebook’s worth because the company’s shares will no longer be supported as heavily by the IPO’s lead underwriter Morgan Stanley.
Facebook’s performance today may further stoke the debate over whether its IPO was priced well. To save face on Friday, Morgan Stanley had to step in to make sure that Facebook shares didn’t close below their opening price. There were also irregularities in trading on NASDAQ as some buyers had to wait hours to know whether their orders had been filled. The company’s market cap is now around $92.7 billion, down from the $104 billion valuation the company opened with last week.
That said, the real test will be over the long haul. Can Facebook prove its worth over the many years to come with more display ad and payments revenue? At Friday’s closing market cap of $104.8 billion, Facebook is worth more than one hundred times last year’s net income. Plus its revenue dipped quarter-over-quarter for the first time in the beginning of this year.
Over the weekend, there was a raging debate about whether the banks underwriting Facebook’s IPO pushed the offer price too high to $38. The financial press including The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg (and yes, even some earlier reporting from me on TechCrunch) focused on the fact that Morgan Stanley had to support Facebook’s shares above the $38 line.
Fortune’s Dan Primack and others VC’s like Benchmark’s Bill Gurley and the guest post on TechCrunch this morning from Trinity’s Dan Scholnick argue that the IPO went off fantastically well for Facebook. Because shares didn’t pop dramatically higher than the $38 offer price, it’s a sign that the company got the most capital it could out of the IPO and didn’t leave any money on the table. They also savvily negotiated the underwriters’ fees down to about 1 percent.
These are all essentially shades of gray. Facebook’s performance today will be fascinating to watch. But again, it’s just one day in the long life of a company. It’s up to Facebook to show that it is worth a lot more.
That’s a sentiment that was echoed by Union Square Ventures’ managing partner Fred Wilson this morning at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York. He said, “The price of Facebook isn’t that important. Mark built an incredible organization. I don’t care whether it’s trading at $25 or 35.”
Facebook’s performance is probably affecting tech stocks across the board. This morning, Zynga’s shares are off 7 percent to $6.65 and LinkedIn is down 6.4 percent to $92.65.