May 16, 2012
Yesterday, I opened my inbox to your most pressing questions about specific stocks and the overall market, and I ended up receiving hundreds of questions on one upcoming market-moving event: Friday's initial public offering of Facebook.com Inc. (FB).
I've discussed this IPO once or twice in my blog before, but with an event this big, it never hurts to run down the basics.
The No. 1 question was how exactly you could pick up a few shares of FB. Well, if you're set on getting in on Facebook from day one, you'll want to go through your broker, like E-trade or Ameritrade. In fact, a few brokerage firms have already worked deals with Facebook to be allowed to buy a certain percentage of the pool. Unfortunately, in the case of E-trade, the brokerage is no longer accepting conditional orders for FB, and I imagine the same may be the case for others.
Now, for people who want to buy just one share of FB for the novelty of it, there are services like GiveAShare.com and OneShare.com that actually sells a single stock at a premium with a collectible paper stock certificate to commemorate the event. A word to the wise—these one-share services aren't suited for serious investors.
Another good question is about the expected cost basis for the stock. As of yesterday, Facebook.com Inc. boosted its price range to $34 to $38 per share, bringing the total IPO to $104.2 billion. This would make Facebook.com Inc. the largest internet IPO in history. Right now, a number of analysts are suspicious that the stock may be overvalued.
Finally, the million-dollar question is whether individual investors should buy into the Facebook IPO. As in the case with a lot of highly-publicized tech IPOs, I must say no. The fact of the matter is that institutional insiders oftentimes get a much better deal at the starting gate; by the time individual investors get a crack at the stock, they run the risk of buying in at an inflated level. Last year, investors who chased Groupon Inc. (GRPN), Pandora Media Inc. (P) or Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) ended up with significant double-digit losses. My take on it is that the Facebook IPO could be a similar story.
In the end, I still consider this IPO a boon for the market. As shown by the recent billion-dollar buyout of Instagram, Facebook.com Inc. tends to energize investors and increase confidence. So, we can look forward to Friday as being an overall busy day for the markets, but I recommend that you stay on the sidelines for this one until the price settles a bit.
For those of you who sent in questions—thank you—in the coming days I will continue to address the hottest topics out there.