The price of Twitter stock shares nearly doubled in the first hour of trading Thursday for the popular social media Internet site.

The U.S.-based company offered initial shares in the messaging site at $26 on the New York Stock Exchange. But interest in the stock quickly pushed the price to a high of more than $50 a share before closing at just below $45.

By the closing bell, the social network was valued at $31 billion.

Twitter has more than 230 million users who like being able to post brief messages of no more than 140 characters about their personal and professional lives.

So far, the company has not had any profits. But some investment analysts, like Kathy Smith of Renaissance Capital, think its $800 million in annual revenue, mostly from advertising, will soon translate into sizeable earnings.

"There's a feeling among investors that the company will not have a problem generating profits."

Twitter has been privately owned. But Thursday's initial public offering of stock to the public raised about $2 billion and was perhaps the most widely anticipated Wall Street transaction since Facebook - another social media site - began offering its stock more than a year ago.

Facebook's debut as a publicly traded stock was marred by technological problems in completing stock purchases and its value fell sharply in the first few months. But now it is trading about 30 percent higher than when it opened.