- Last Updated: 1:48 PM, May 4, 2012
- Posted: 11:51 PM, May 3, 2012
Facebook is headed for the record books.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking company finally filled in the blanks yesterday for investors, setting a share price range of $28 to $35 for its initial public offering, sealing Facebook’s claim to the highest valued tech IPO ever.
At the top end of the range, Facebook would be worth $87.5 billion when it starts trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker “FB” — nearly four times the $23 billion Google was worth when it went public in 2004.
That would value the social network giant founded by 27-year-old Zuckerberg at 24 times sales in the 12 months ended March 31. By comparison, Google is valued at five times revenue.
Facebook shares are expected to start trading on May 18 after a road show to corral investors. Morgan Stanley is lead underwriter.
In a filing yesterday, Facebook also revealed that the company and its stakeholders plan to sell 337.4 million shares — raising $11.8 billion.
Other highlights include:
* Zuckerberg will sell 30.2 million of his 533.8 million shares for about $1 billion. Most of the proceeds will be used just to pay his tax bill.
* Zuckerberg’s stake is valued at $18.7 billion, and he will control just over 57 percent of the voting stock.
* Half of the 337.4 million shares to be sold will benefit employees, investors and founders.
Facebook’s ultimate value depends on the number of outstanding shares, but that number is hard to nail down. By the strictest measures Facebook has about 2.1 billion shares, which would value the company between $58.8 billion and $73.5 billion.
However, including stock options and other types of shares, there are closer to 2.5 billion Facebook shares, which means the company is worth between $70 billion and $87.5 billion.
By either measure, Facebook is still shy of the $100 billion mark many anticipated, and the stock range is lower than where shares have previously traded on private markets.
Facebook shares have traded close to $45 on secondary markets in recent months.
However, the range could change, and many Facebook watchers expect it will after the road show drums up more demand for one of the most anticipated public launches.
The online version of the road show launched yesterday.
“It doesn’t matter one bit what the valuation is right now,” said David Menlow, principal analyst at IPO Financial. “There is no question the stock — from wherever it’s priced first — will trade at multiples above the IPO price.”
By most accounts, investors are valuing Facebook on intangible factors beyond its financial performance. In fact, the latest earnings report showed slowing year-over-year revenue growth and declining profits.
Some advisers have cautioned against Facebook. “We advised secondary market clients to remember that RenRen, Facebook’s China competitor, priced its IPO at $14 in May 2011. It then declined 74 percent over a seven-month period,” said Laurence Allen, who heads private market research firm NYPPEX.