Monday, May 28, 2012

The curious public reaction to Facebook IPO

You couldn't have missed the public fury over the Facebook IPO, over the last week, even if you not economically inclined !  Facebook was a darling before the IPO - great company, stratospheric valuations, etc etc, which this blogger has been heartily against. But now after the IPO , Facebook is a pariah, it botched up the IPO, lawsuits threatened, etc etc. This time this blogger is completely on the side of Facebook and totally flummoxed by the public reaction.

What is the main charge ?  Facebook's price did not shoot up 10 times after the IPO. Instead it has declined by some 16% or so, over the IPO price, in the first week. The company has committed sacrilege. Really ??

Who are the moaners and bleaters. The punters who bought in the IPO wanting to sell on the first day after listing and make a 5000% profit. Please tell me why the company has any obligations to these greedy leeches ? What economic activity have these speculators done (never mind that in this lot might be Oregon widows who didn't know what they were doing !)? Why should they make any profit at all ? Why should Facebook "ensure" that the stock rises manifold on the date of listing ? It can be argued that Facebook should actually be doing precisely the opposite. After all if the price shoots up after the IPO, the company is shortchanging the original investors who first invested in the company to the benefit of the sharks who want to make a whopping profit in one day. By that yardstick, Facebook has done precisely the right thing.

The second charge is that the IPO price was overvalued. Now do you need a MBA to tell you this ? Of course the company is overvalued like crazy. Everybody knows that. People chose to close their eyes and believe that in a stampede they would make a killing. They've now been trampled. Tough luck. 

The third charge, and a more serious one, is that Facebook let some analysts know that its latest quarter's numbers would be lower than expectations, but didn't inform everybody. This is what is triggering the threats of massive lawsuits.I don't know the facts behind this allegation, but I suspect this is a fig leaf behind which the punters are wanting to hide. As if their stampeding to buy Facebook shares had anything to do with numbers or logic or any sensible model of valuation based on earnings. Would they have behaved any differently if Facebook had said they would earn half of what they did ??

I have zero sympathy for those moaning today, I am actually delighted that they have lost their shirts and would be even more delighted if they lost their underwears too. The right course of action for them is to wait a year or two, and see if Facebook's performance doesn't lift the share price. Fat chance of that happening - this lot has the patience of an ectoplasm !

I am totally with Facebook on this one, even though I am not with them on anything else. That's why I am not updating my timeline !