It's the earnings beat heard 'round the world. Facebook (FB) the oft-mocked social media king reported third quarter results last night, coming in ahead of expectations and showing growth in the all-important mobile advertising division. The company hit the metrics laid out on Breakout yesterday, launching the stock more than 20% higher in early trading.
All of which is yesterday's news. What matters today is whether the results are enough to keep Facebook from selling-off under the weight of over one-billion shares coming out of lock-up over the next month.
Kenny Polcari, managing director of ICAP is a skeptic. "I think they're definitely trying to do some housekeeping before the lock-up expires," he says in the attached video.
The last time Facebook saw a block of shares open for selling, the stock fell 7% in one day, driven lower by insiders seemingly willing to unload at any price. After that episode and the legendarily horrible IPO, another stock-related debacle is the last thing Mark Zuckerberg & Co. needs right now.
For the near term, Polcari wants to see how the move plays out over the course of the day. Once the "grownups" in the form of funds that have long positions in the company start trading Polcari and others will be able to get a better feel for the momentum.
Facebook probably won't say much before the next lock-up. Assuming at least some of those billion shares hit the market, it's going to take buyers stepping up aggressively for FB to start giving up the gains. If and when that happens, those doing the buying this morning are likely to jettison shares themselves, creating a potential cascade. (See Related: Facebook Shares Bounce Ahead of Lockup Expiration Tsunami)
As for those buyers, Polcari doesn't think they'll be falling all over themselves to pick up shares. "Based on what the stock has done (since the IPO) these guys that are going to jump in now want to be rewarded," he says. "They want to feel like they're getting a deal."
What you want and what you get are different things in the market. Traders would like a deal. Shareholders need the stock to rise another 50% to get back to the IPO price. Sometime over the next month the market will decide who gets their way. At least for the moment it's no contest: Facebook bulls have won the day.
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