World Bulletin / News Desk
Facebook Inc's shares slid 6.2 percent to another record low on Tuesday, diving for the third straight day since lackluster results showed decelerating user growth and revived doubts about its ability to sustain its rich valuation.
A sobering report from Bernstein Research, combined with online chatter about the potential proliferation of automated Facebook accounts and a looming sell-off of employee shares next month all conspired torock the stock, analysts say.
Facebook has lost more than 40 percent of its value since becoming on May 18 the first American company to debut with a value of more than $100 billion.
The stock, down 6.2 percent at $21.71, still trades at more than 40 times forward earnings, versus Google Inc's 15.
Investors have punished the stocks of the No. 1 social network and other consumer-focused Internet companies such as Zynga Inc, questioning their ability to sustain growth and maintain lofty valuations.
Last week, Facebook reported results but offered no outlook or forecast for the year, disappointing investors who had hoped for affirmation of its growth prospects.
Wall Street is also bracing for a potential deluge of hundreds of millions of shares after Aug. 16, whenFacebook employees can sell their company-awarded shares for the first time.
"It's a combination of the Bernstein note, and partly complaints about the Facebook bot. Lockups are also causing pressure on shares today," said analyst Herman Leung of Susquehanna Financial Group, which owns and is a market maker in Facebook shares.
"People are just wondering what the next update is, and there's more headwinds than not. But the long-term story still feels intact."
Facebook's IPO was to have been the culmination of breakneck growth for the company that Mark Zuckerberg started 8 years ago in his Harvard dorm room. Instead, the May 18 Nasdaq debut was marred by trading glitches and accusations of inadequate disclosure.
On Tuesday, UBS blamed a 349 million Swiss franc ($360 million) loss from Facebook's botched debut on exchange operator Nasdaq, becoming the latest financial investment institution to report a hit from the first day of trade.
UBS said orders for the stock had been entered multiple times due to a systems failure.
Compounding Facebook's woes was a Tuesday report from Bernstein Research analyst Carlos Kirjnerthat valued its display advertising business at just $19 a share, half the company's $38 IPO price.
Kirjner set Facebook's 12-month target price at $23, placing a $4 premium on what he said was untapped advertising potential around the company's innovative social graph. But, that potential remains "yet to be defined and built," he wrote.
Kirjner on Tuesday upgraded Facebook to market perform, but suggested that the lockup's expiry, which could unleash up to 211 million shares, will weigh on the stock.
The size of the current float could be nearly tripled by November, as more and more employees begin tosell, Kirjner warned.
Finally, an Internet startup late on Monday publicly called into question Facebook's user-number claims, igniting debate among industry executives and on the Internet.
A commerce site called Limited Run, in announcing that it was deleting its Facebook page, claimed that 80 percent of its ad-clicks on Facebook came from "bots" or automated accounts, and only a fifth from genuine users.
"We're currently investigating their claims," said an external spokeswoman for the social network.
With memories of riots at the pumps when cheap fuel was rationed for the first time, in 2007, police are on the alert, but do not expect trouble, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said
Slovak Economy Minister Tomas Malatinsky said a deal allowing shipment of the gas via an unused pipeline between the two countries was almost ready.
Much lawmaking in Europe, including a sweeping overhaul of banking, is wrapped up in talks between diplomats and lawmakers with no public record of who attended or what was said
Thousands of workers at a factory in Dongguan in the Pearl River Delta run by Hong Kong-listed Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings , the world's largest shoe maker, have been on strike for more than 10 days
Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said last week that Russia could launch a dispute at the world trade body to challenge U.S. sanctions.
A Gazprom source said the $11.4 billion was in addition to the $2.2 billion that Naftogaz already owes for supplies in 2013 and 2014 so far.
Tech giant Apple reported Wednesday a 4.6 percent increase to $45.6 billion in quarterly revenue, beating market expectations after selling 43.7 million iPhones.
The six-day meeting is expected to discuss the CFTA's objectives, the principles that will guide negotiations for the free trade area, and the institutional arrangements needed to conduct negotiations.
Russia has proposed from European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger for a three-way meeting on gas between Russia
The southern African country, which ditched its hyper-inflated local currency in 2009, is facing a serious dollar crunch as a result of lack of foreign donor support and investment
The European Commission, in charge of policing member states' public finances, is expected to respond to French projections in early June after European parliamentary elections
The Australian purchase is a signal of confidence in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, which is about 70 percent over budget and years behind schedule
Executives say a plan is needed to tackle surging inflation as economic recession looms.
An agreement between the United States and Japan is crucial for setting the tone for other countries engaged in the TPP
The pipeline was closed as a precaution following the discovery of the fuel store
Unfair pricing which threatens U.S. domestic industry brings additional taxes to Turkish and Mexican companies.