Monday, 21 May 2012

Facebook - great company, greedy IPO

Facebook's shares today fell below last week's $38 IPO level and $104 billion valuation - a retreat a little too swift for comfort.
There may be technical factors at play here related to the flotation, and a rally - in the short term, at least - is on the cards.
But the drop supports the case of those who say Mark Zuckerberg's social network company came to market overpriced, perhaps proving massively so in the long run.
You don't need to be a retired financial journalist such as myself to wonder at the decision of Facebook's advisers to seek a valuation higher than that of established companies such as Amazon, American Express, McDonald's, and Walt Disney.
The ambitious price tag means the company must accelerate its profit making potential rather than aim for steady year-on-year growth.
While Facebook is signing up new users faster than it is losing old ones, it will continue to look attractive to its profit generators, the advertisers. But herein lays Facebook's greatest weakness.
The more advertising it garners, the more its user appeal will deteriorate. And the further afield it goes in search of new users, the more likely they are to be found in less affluent regions.
Users in its 'mature' markets may sign in less frequently (if at all) or else avoid advertisers - either way it would be bad for ad rates and, therefore, profits.
Personally I'm not comfortable using Facebook but I have no difficulty in acknowledging it is a great company and currently satisfies millions of people around the world. The IPO has made it look greedy.

1 comment:

What do you think? GC