Oh, Zuck: Facebook's bumpy start just got a little worse
May 23rd, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Oh, Zuck: Facebook's bumpy start just got a little worse

To say its been a rough ride for Facebook's IPO would be an understatement.

And as the social media giant edges toward the close of its first week of trading, questions are swirling about the company's valuation, its profitability and now allegations that full details of the stock's likely value were shared with only a select group of people.

Did some people get a heads-up Facebook's IPO wasn't what it seemed?

Regulators are now looking into the possibility that Facebook's Wall Street investment banks may have tipped off some clients that Facebook wasn't necessarily a great buy or worth the hype it was receiving, according to reports Wednesday from Reuters and several other news organizations.

“Facebook changed the numbers – they didn’t forecast their business right and they changed their numbers and told analysts,” a person at one of Facebook’s banks told Reuters.

Overheard on CNN.com 'I saw this one coming from a mile away'

The big question is: Did certain privileged customers receive information about the Facebook offering that you as an individual investor might not have?

Rick Ketchum, head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an independent regulatory body, acknowledged in an article from Reuters that a Morgan Stanley analyst reduced his revenue projections for Facebook shortly before the offering and shared the information with institutional investors.

And now Facebook shareholders have filed a lawsuit against the social network, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a number of banks, alleging that crucial information was concealed ahead of Facebook's IPO. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, charges the defendants with failing to disclose in the critical days leading up to Friday's initial public offering "a severe and pronounced reduction."

Facebook  defended themselves on Wednesday saying they "believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously."

The report, and now the lawsuit, raises questions about whether Morgan Stanley, one of the underwriter companies that handled Facebook's IPO, or other banks knowingly offered certain investors privileged information that should have been made public. Other underwriters targeted by the lawsuit include Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America.

It is possible that Morgan Stanley may have signed off on a price that was too high or agreed to sell too many shares in the deal, CNNMoney.com reports. Then, Morgan Stanley analysts are alleged to have told certain people they had a negative assessment of the social network's offering.

"If true, the allegations are a matter of regulatory concern to FINRA and the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," Ketchum said in a statement via a spokeswoman.

The New York Times reported Morgan Stanley did more than just quietly share a negative outlook; they actually "held conference calls to update their banks' analysts on business."

"Analysts at Morgan Stanley and other firms soon started advising clients to dial back their expectations," the article says. "One prospective buyer was told that second-quarter revenue could be 5 percent lower than the bank’s earlier estimates."

Sallie Krawcheck, Bank of America's former head of wealth management, took to Twitter to share her outrage about the allegations.

[tweet https://twitter.com/SallieKrawcheck/status/205090084373008384%5D

A glitch leaves investors not knowing if they have Facebook stock

Facebook's debut on the market was hindered by early confusion when trading was delayed by two hours after what Nasdaq called a "technical error."

"People didn't know where their orders stood, and it became a big guessing game," one trader, who had put in an order to buy Facebook shares ahead of the opening bell, told CNNMoney.com. "Nasdaq couldn't handle it - they blew it."

The trader said he didn't receive a report of how many shares he bought and how much he paid for them until three hours after his order was executed. Typically, that report is transmitted instantaneously, he said.

Facebook IPO: What went wrong?

Others were left even further in the dark. A frustrated 11-year-old investor, who in many ways represents the most basic frustration for individual investors, told the New York Post that three days after the public debut, he had absolutely no idea if he even had gotten shares of the company. 

“They are holding my money hostage,” said Sam Lesser, who had put in a $10,000 Facebook order from money he made in a small business he created. "It’s really disappointing, because we could have made money on this."

To prevent a repeat of Facebook's botched opening, Nasdaq has changed its process to no longer accept order modifications once the final calculation has begun.

Stock disappointing many - unless you're a flipper

If you bought Facebook hoping it would be a steady earner in the early days, you were certainly out of luck.

While the Facebook IPO was one of the most highly anticipated IPOs in recent memory, setting a record for first-day trading volume, it's also been quite a disappointment so far.

The stock is still down about 15 and has yet to post a truly positive trading session. On Friday the stock had a minute gain, but other than that, it hasn't done much to impress early investors.

That is, of course, unless you're someone looking to trade minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour in order to turn a real quick profit.

"It's a day trader's paradise right now," Douglas DePietro, managing director for sales trading and trading execution at Evercore Partners, told CNNMoney.com. "There's high volatility and high volume."

soundoff (772 Responses)
  1. goingfast

    I understand all of this, BUT WHERE IS ALL OF THE GELT?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cobra129

    Looks like all you Zuckerberg zuckers just got taken to the cleaners.....I guess he gives new meaning to take the money & run.....LOL

    May 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AntiFBFan

    It's a flippin conspiracy! Hhang the dawgs reponsible!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Speedracer69

    People are so greedy and underhanded it makes me sick.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AntiFBFan

    karma karma karma karma karma chameleonnnnnn...

    May 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Awetmedic

    AOL and Al Gore have already pulled big internet scams, why are idiots falling for this again? I know, when FB crashes after a new app comes along, lets bail out the idiots who lose money on this deal. All we will have to do is pay more taxes and the rich won't lose their (our) money again.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joe

    I'm buying some shares for entertainment value. Not enough to hurt me financially, but enough that if the shares do take off I'll make a little green. I guess some people put 24 inch rims on their car for entertainment. I choose to put money into a crazy stock that is a wild shot in the dark. Plus if they never turn into anything I can pass the shares down to my kids and say awww remember when facebook was the "next big thing."

    May 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Raymond

    facebook stock should be no more than 5 buck a share and that`s expensive . Ifeel sorry for the investors .

    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FBgoofed

    I don't understand why people bought this stock. I mean if you read the new daily, people would have seen all the polls of FB being a passing fad. If that is how almost half of the individuals feel about FB prior to them releasing their IPO then why would people even buy it?? Oh right, morons.I am just curious to see how Wall Street bounces back from this, I feel it crumbling quite soon.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegnd

      Why did people buy this stock? Because the stock market is half casino, half popularity contest. It's not finance, it's not serious business, it's just a bunch of people playing a money game with names they like.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NukeTim

    Welcome to the REAL world, Zucks.

    It's not all wine and roses; with a dose of marriage on the side.....

    May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. stephendouglas

    Until there is jail time and forefiture of the profits from insider trading for these crooks, it will continue to happen.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nekheny

    If you thought for one second that Facebook was honestly worth over a hundred billion dollars then you deserve everything you got from this IPO. Even the most cursory research would show that Facebook would take well over a century to get revenue approaching that, and LESS THAN A WEEK PRIOR TO THE IPO GM very publicly pulled over a million bucks worth of ads from the site, claiming that it's just not a profitable advertising venue.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gregory

    I dont' know why everyone getting sooo upset. Facebook stocks will calm down and even out in time. It's going to be okay.. Gee'sss..

    May 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Patricksday

    The Greed of America, money addicts like crack heads blinded by everything but the addiction.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mikamonkey

    A lawsuit. More millions for the lawyers and the individual investor gets 3 cents for every share they bought. In 10 years.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
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