Facebook's now in league with the sock puppet

The infamous Pets.com IPO from 2000 may turn out to be a bigger success than Facebook's.

By Minyanville May 31, 2012 5:34PM
Facebook (FB) had an awful lot of trouble early Thursday gaining any kind of upside traction as investors continued to avoid what was supposed to be easy money. The stock was in the $27 range for much of the day before making a late-afternoon upswing to close up 5% to $29.60.

In fact, Facebook is now significantly underperforming the last mega-bubble IPO, 2007's Blackstone (BX), as well as that of the last generational Internet IPO, 2004's Google (GOOG) deal.

But perhaps most importantly, Facebook is on track to underperform the most infamous IPO flop from Internet Bubble 1.0: Pets.com.

Yes, the company best known for losing money and having a commercial with a sock puppet is beating the world's biggest and most profitable social network.

As you can see on our chart here, which measures post-IPO stock performance on a scale of 100, Facebook (70.9) is actually slightly underperforming Pets.com (71.6), which hit the public markets precisely when investors started to think that earnings, revenues, and cash flow might actually matter:

Facebook IPO Vs. Pets.com IPO

In fact, for Facebook to stay above Pets.com, it will have to close at $27.37 or higher today -- which it did.

So what's going on here?

Well, it's simple: There are no buyers for Facebook stock.

At 49 times expected full-year earnings, it is far from cheap so value investors aren't coming.

Growth investors see the deteriorating monetization metrics, and so they have to be worried about the company hitting the numbers. (See: Facebook's Q1 Results Indicate Further Deterioration in Growth and Monetization Metrics.)

The retail crowd that got burned on the disgrace of an IPO isn't coming back, and I'd bet that other everyday-Joe investors aren't interested either given the nasty headlines (like the one you see on the top of this page).

And as for the institutional guys, Facebook just might be something they don't want to be seen owning come quarter-end.

The way I see it, Facebook has to put up some huge numbers when it makes its first quarterly earnings report to put the IPO out of investors' minds.

The problem is, the quarter doesn't end until June 30, and the company will need at the very least a few weeks to close out the books. So odds are, we're about two months from seeing just how Q2 shaped up.

For now, given the revelation that underwriters like Morgan Stanley (MS) may have tipped off certain big investors about a slowdown at Facebook, odds are the stock may still have trouble just staying flat, let alone rallying.

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