Facebook 'roadshow' could start next week
The SEC is seen approving its prospectus soon. Then, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others will travel the country to sell investors on the stock. The IPO, expected to value the social-networking company at around $100 billion, may come in mid-May.
At least three news organizations reported today that the social-networking company is near completion of the reviews of its prospectus, technically known as a Form S-1. There have been a number of amendments to the document, which describes the stock offering and includes lots and lots of financial data.
When everything is done, the Securities and Exchange Commission will declare the prospectus "effective" -- legaleze for approved -- and Facebook and its investment bankers can go on the road to talk to potential investors. After that comes pricing and initial sale of shares. If all goes well, the pricing will come after the close on May 17, and the stock will begin trading on the Nasdaq system on May 18 with the ticker FB.
The "roadshow," as it's known in Street parlance, is expected to make stops in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore and possibly Los Angeles, The New York Times said tonight. Once the road is done, the bankers will price the stock offering, which is expected to imply that Facebook is worth maybe as much as $100 billion.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to appear at most -- if not all -- the presentations, The Wall Street Journal's All Things D blog said today. There had speculation Zuckerberg might not appear because he didn't show up at a pre-IPO meeting with bankers.
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"Zuckerberg is too key to all aspects of its business not to appear," wrote All Things D's Kara Swisher, the first to report the roadshow is near. Zuckerberg may even wear a tie, instead of his customary hoodie.
All kidding aside, he is too important to the company not to appear. Even after the stock is sold, Zuckerberg will retain almost absolute control of the company. He told his board of directors about Facebook's $1 billion purchase of image-software company Instagram after the deal was cut.
Also expected to play key roles in the roadshow are Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and possibly others.
The roadshow is likely to be heavily scrutinized by prospective investors and the broader tech industry. Facebook’s initial public offering is on track to be the largest Internet IPO on record, dwarfing the recent offerings of Zynga (ZNGA) and Groupon (GRPN) as well as Google's (GOOG) IPO debut in 2004.
While interest runs high, Facebook’s executives will have to outline a compelling picture for investors in the coming weeks, to justify a valuation of $100 billion or more and to offset lackluster first-quarter earnings. In the first quarter, Facebook’s profits fell 12% to $205 million, amid mounting expenses, from a year earlier.
Revenue of $1.06 billion in the first quarter was up 44.7% from a year earlier but was down 6.5% from the fourth quarter. That was the first time revenue had dropped from quarter to quarter, according to SEC documents. The decline suggested growth may be slowing.
MSN is clearly shilling for FB. Last week it was the Cramer "Grab a piece of Facebook-if-you-can" puff piece, now this.
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