News Column

Facebook Strength Implies Large Investors are Interested

November 28, 2012

By Matt Krantz

There's nothing stopping Facebook employees from selling their company stock. But now, some investors might figure it's actually worth hanging on.

More than 1 billion shares of Facebook were unlocked to be sold for the first time on Oct. 29 and Nov. 14. Owners of these shares, mainly employees, had to hold onto their stock and wait to sell until the unlock period. Such waiting periods are customary with newly public companies.

Facebook's stock suffered after the first two lockup-period expirations, falling 6% the first time and 3% the second. But on the third, and largest, unlock Facebook stock soared more than 12%. The stock's strength implies that more large institutions are willing to buy than employees willing to sell.

Traders are encouraged by the stock's recent bounce. Shares fell below $20 a share, but are now finding support in the low to mid-$20s. The fact the shares are finding their footing, even after the unlock, is powering the bulls.

Critics still abound. Despite making traction with mobile Facebook users, S&P Capital IQ analyst Scott Kessler repeated his "hold" rating in late November, saying Facebook still has challenges.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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