Twitter shares rocket 92 pct higher in NYSE debut

Reuters

By Olivia Oran and Gerry Shih

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Twitter Inc stock soared 92percent in their first day of trading on Thursday on the NewYork Stock Exchange as investors snapped up shares in themicroblogging site, pushing its market value to a heady $25billion.

The shares opened at $45.10 a share, up from the initialpublic offering price of $26 set on Wednesday, then added tothose gains, hitting a high of $50.

Sources said the flotation had drawn strong demand, withinvestors asking for 30 times the number of shares on offer asthey bet on potential growth at the money-losing social mediacompany.

The opening price valued the shares at about 22 timesforecast 2014 sales, nearly double that multiple at social mediarivals Facebook Inc and LinkedIn Corp.

Twitter executives including Chief Executive Dick Costoloand founder Jack Dorsey thronged to the floor of the New YorkStock Exchange to witness the IPO. The Big Board snatched theoffering away from Nasdaq after the normally tech-focused Nasdaqstumbled with the larger Facebook flotation last year.

"Facebook was so overhyped people felt like they couldn'tmiss out," said Kenneth Polcari, a senior floor official atO'Neil Securities Inc. "Twitter isn't like that, though you canfeel the excitement."

British actor Patrick Stewart rang the opening bell at theexchange together with 9-year-old Vivienne Harr, who started acharity to end childhood slavery using the microblogging site.

"I guess I represent the poster boy for Twitter," Stewartsaid, adding that he had only been tweeting for about a year andwasn't buying Twitter stock today.

Twitter's building staff opened its offices in San Franciscoextra early, at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. By 7:30 a.m., hundreds ofemployees had flocked to their 9th floor cafeteria to watchStewart ring the opening bell on TV.

The microblogging network priced its 70 million shares atabove the targeted range of $23 to $25, which had been raisedonce before. The IPO values Twitter at $14.1 billion, with thepotential to reach $14.4 billion if underwriters exercise anoverallotment option.

If the full overallotment is exercised, as expected, Twittercould raise $2.1 billion, making it the second largest Internetoffering in the United States behind Facebook Inc's $16billion IPO last year and ahead of Google Inc's 2004IPO, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Twitter boasts 230 million global users, including heads ofstate and celebrities, but it lost $65 million in its mostrecent quarter and questions remained about long-term prospects.

It also lacks the ubiquity of Facebook or the "stickiness"factor that keeps people checking the No. 1 social network on adaily basis.

A Reuters-Ipsos poll last month showed that 36 percent ofpeople who signed up for a Twitter account say they do not useit.

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