Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Regulators mull Facebook IPO review

Facebook stock (FB) finished Tuesday at $31.12, which is down nearly $7 from its IPO price of $38 (or about 18 percent). As it did, word came that two top U.S. financial regulators, the SEC and FINRA, were calling for a review of the IPO.

The calls for a review came as Reuters reported that the consumer Internet analyst at lead underwriter Morgan Stanley had cut his revenue forecasts for Facebook in the days before the IPO, information that may not have reached investors, particularly the general public, before the stock was listed.

Reuters also reported that its sources said JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which were also underwriters on the deal, each revised their estimates during the "road show," as well. A "road show" is when the management of a company issuing securities or doing an IPO travels around the country giving presentations to potential investors, analysts, and fund managers.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro said that in the wake of the revelations, there were questions that need to be answered, about the IPO.

"I think there is a lot of reason to have confidence in our markets and in the integrity of how they operate, but there are issues that we need to look at specifically with respect to Facebook."

Schapiro made the statement to reporters as she exited a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

Richard Ketchum, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's chairman and chief executive added,

"That's [Morgan Stanley's revenue forecast change] a matter of regulatory concern to us and I'm sure to the SEC. And without saying whether it's us or the SEC, we will collectively be focusing on it."

However, there are also fingers being pointed at NASDAQ. At least one hedge fund manager, who requested anonymity, told Business Insider that the well-publicized and admitted NASDAQ computer FUBARs that hampered the Facebook IPO also killed any momentum and excitement around the stock. He said,

"... this should have been a blockbuster. This should have traded to $60 or $70. This should have launched a wave of tech IPOs."

It may still turn out that way, as stock market bets are usually long-term, but many may have been hoping for a quick return. It is definitely not looking that way, yet.

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