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Twitter: Strong IPO, followed by even stronger opening

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MUMBAI: It began with a tweet on its twitter handle which stated: “We just priced our IPO.” Attached with the tweet was a screen shot of the offering announcement.

And by the time Wednesday 6 November ended, the social networking site that has become a phenomenon across the globe had managed to raise $2.09 billion from its IPO, making it the seventh-largest US tech IPO ever, just ahead of Google, which raised $1.92 billion in its 2004 stock market debut, according to some estimates.

But there was more in store for stockmarket observers and investors as trading began on Thursday morning. The Twitter share - under the TWTR ticker - spurted 90 plus per cent in value as it soared to $45 per share during early trades and then to a high of $50. This took up the valuation of the firm to $25 billion or 32 billion or so, at the time of writing.

Yesterday's $26 price valued the microblogging service at $18.34 billion, on a fully diluted basis. That is 16 to 17 times forecast 2014 sales, a premium to rivals including Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp, according to some analysts.

Twitter set an early price range of $17 to $20 for its IPO, which was considered cautious. But there was strong interest from investors, and the company was selling just 70 million of its 545 million shares, leaving an imbalance between supply and demand. That allowed the company and its bankers, led by Goldman Sachs' Anthony Noto, to raise the range to $23 to $25 and then pick a final price above that.

 

Analysts felt that the price should have been in the $21 range but the final pricing zipped past that. Other analyst and stock watchers had predicted that the share would go past the $40 market during day one's trading. The IPO was as much as 30 times over-subscribed.

While Twitter has a broad and powerful influence, its service is sometimes tricky to understand and use, which has reportedly limited the company's growth. Twitter has about 230 million users, including heads of state and celebrities, while Facebook has more than one billion.

However, Twitter lost $65 million in the latest quarter.

Twitter is expected to generate $1.24 billion in sales in 2015, according to some projections. Its adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) margins will be roughly 6.5 per cent this year and 8.4 per cent in 2014, according to IPO underwriter forecasts that were shared with investors. In 2015, margins may jump to about 16 per cent, the estimates suggest.

During an interview given to CNBC, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is believed to have said that investors should not be concerned about the company's current lack of profits, since its part of a plan to invest for the long term.

It looks like the investment community and public is buying his story for now - at least.

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