News / Economy

Facebook Stock Hits New Low

Facebook stock has fallen below $20 per share -- nearly half the stock's initial selling price after its much-hyped public debut in May.  The sell-off came Thursday after the expiration of a 90-day ban that prevented early investors from selling shares of Facebook for quick profit. Despite the stock's poor performance so far, some say it's too early to give up on Facebook.

It was easily the most anticipated, most watched public offering of 2012, but just three months later, early investors couldn't get rid of their shares fast enough.

"They just threw it out there. The stock was down, six, seven percent, which says to me that the people that know the most about the company don't want to be anywhere near the shares," said Jeff Mackey, host of Yahoo Finance.

More than 270 million shares became available Thursday after selling restrictions were lifted - sending Facebook stock to a new low, and shaving about $50 billion off its market value.

But at nearly half it's $38 selling price in May, equity analyst Scott Kessler at Standard and Poor's sees a bargain.

"Ultimately we think these are going to provide a nice buying opportunity for investors because we don't necessarily see a lot of selling by insiders," Kessler said.

Others urge casual investors to be wary.  Facebook reported losses in July due to higher costs and slowing revenue. And there are new concerns about the company's leadership and its ability to attract advertising.

Yahoo's Mackey says he's taking his cue from the big investors.

"I don't want to buy what Goldman Sachs doesn't want to own cause I think they're pretty smart guys.  I want to be buying alongside them, so you know, this Facebook thing: it's time to take a pass," Mackey said.

But Kessler says it's too early to write off the Internet's number one social network.

"The reality is that we're looking for the company to grow revenues at 25 percent or more annually for 2012, 2013 and 2014," Kessler said.

For investors it's a matter of supply and demand.  About 14 percent of locked up Facebook shares were released Thursday.  More than a billion more shares are expected to hit the market in November.

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