Alibaba priced its shares at $68 a piece Thursday, solidifying its stature as the biggest U.S. initial public offering (IPO) in history, and investors are likely to push the price higher when it opens for trading on Friday, analysts say.
"Going by Alibaba's IPO pricing of $68, there is likely to be plenty of upside on the stock on its trading debut," said Ryan Huang, market strategist at IG.
"The price suggests Alibaba will trade at around 29 times earnings, which will put it at a discount to some of its industry peers, compared to Amazon's forward price-to-earnings at 356, Tencent (Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 700-HK)'s at 31 and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU - News)'s at 32. This suggests Alibaba is focused on pulling off a success listing, in being careful not to overprice its IPO and turn off investors," he added.
The stock priced at the top of the revised $66-$68 range, well ahead of the initial $60-$66 range. At $68 a piece, the IPO will raise $21.8 billion when it debuts.The Chinese e-commerce giant plans to sell 320 million shares, and has the option to sell an additional 48 million.
Read More Alibaba prices IPO at $68 a share
"The pricing is very compelling. The company's recent financials were very impressive with daily active buyers around 280 million, profit of $2 billion and 43 percent operating margin," said Brad Gastwirth CEO of technology and healthcare investment firm ABR Investment Strategy. "I expect BABA to be a core holding for many large cap growth portfolios."
"I will not be surprised if the IPO price edges up to match expectations on the UK gray market currently over around $90," said IG's Huang referring to a service IG (London Stock Exchange: IGG-GB) offers that allows customers to bet on Alibaba's value ahead of the IPO.
"Over the next few weeks and months, there's likely to be momentum to bid it up further as fund managers start to add Alibaba to their portfolios for the China e-commerce market exposure," said Huang, adding that this could lead to a sell-off in other internet related stocks (particularly Amazon) as capital is reallocated.
Shares of Softbank, Alibaba's largest shareholder, rose 1 percent in early Asian trading.
Twitter users also chimed in:
Cause for concern?
While Alibaba's IPO has generated much excitement as investors look to tap China's rapidly growing consumer market and e-commerce boom, some have reservations.
The firm already boasts an 80 percent share of China's e-commerce market, thus growth prospects may be limited. Meanwhile China's tricky regulatory environment and uncertainty over its ability to expand into other major markets have been flagged as concerns.
But Jack Bouroudjian, CEO of Bull & Bear Partners, dismissed some of these concerns on CNBC Asia's " Rundown ".
"It takes a while to build traction, but when you're talking about the biggest IPO in history a lot of people who haven't heard about it before are going to hear about it now... we're talking about a pure play into China," he said.
At $68 a share, Alibaba is valued at $170.8 billion, bigger than most companies in the Standard & Poor index including Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN - News) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY - News), which are valued at $150 billion and $65 billion, respectively. Alibaba is not eligible for inclusion on the S&P however, as the firm is domiciled outside of the U.S.
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