Share this article

print logo

Facebook raises prices of shares as IPO nears

Already expected to be the largest initial public offering for an Internet company, Facebook is making its IPO even bigger.

The world's largest online social network Tuesday increased the planned price range for its stock to $34 to $38 per share in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's up from its previous range of $28 to $35. At the upper limit of $38, the sale would raise about $12.8 billion.

The move, which values Facebook as high as $104 billion, comes amid growing investor excitement about the offering. Analysts are comparing the frenzy surrounding Facebook's IPO to Google's in 2004, though in sheer size the latter pales in comparison.

Facebook would be the fourth-largest U.S. IPO in history, edging out AT&T Wireless, whose 2000 IPO raised $10.6 billion, according to Renaissance Capital, an IPO investment advisory firm.

The AP-CNBC survey, meanwhile, found that of average Americans who invest in the stock market, 58 percent think Facebook's valuation is too high at around $100 billion. That's larger than well-known companies such as Ford and Kraft but smaller than Google or Microsoft. About three in 10 investors called the expected value fair.

Meanwhile, in a potential indication of future Facebook profitability, few users surveyed in an AP-CNBC poll say they click on the site's ads or buy the virtual goods that make money for it.

More than 40 percent of American adults log in to the site -- to share news, personal observations, photos and more -- at least once a week. In all, some 900 million people around the world are users. But many of them don't have a very high opinion of Facebook or trust it to keep their information private.

Users' distrust limits the value of the site's ads. Advertisers want to target their messages to the people most likely to respond to them. And the more Facebook knows about its users, the better it will be at tailoring those ads to their interests.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that General Motors plans to stop advertising on Facebook because the company has concluded that the ads are ineffective. The paper cited anonymous sources.

GM spokesman Tom Henderson said the company is "reassessing" advertising on Facebook, but he would not say if the company has made any changes.

Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at research firm eMarketer, said Facebook has plenty of opportunities to be a better link between advertisers and users. For instance, it can be more effective when it places an ad in a social context. People are much more likely to click on an ad if a friend has already "liked" it or if it consists of a comment a friend posted on the brand website, she said.

"This is all fairly new and experimental. I don't think we've seen the full results of what adding social context means when it comes to the response to advertising," she said.