Facebook prices shares at $38, for more than $100B valuation, report says

Facebook will price its shares at $38 for a valuation of more than $100 billion, the company said in a press release Thursday.

That’s at the top of the $34-$38 range that the company specified earlier this week ahead of its scheduled debut on the Nasdaq index Friday under the ticker symbol “FB.”

The company had originally said it would price its shares in a range of $29 to $35 but raised that range this week after touring its stock to institutional investors around the country. It stands to raise up to $18 billion with its initial public offering, when including shares set aside to meet excess demand. It will be the largest technology offering in U.S. history.

Critics have said that Facebook has yet to offer a clear picture of how it will make money off its 901 million users — an assessment that highlights the company’s weaknesses in mobile advertising.

In recent months, the company has acquired firms that should help it plug the holes in its business model. In April, Facebook paid $1 billion to acquire the photo-sharing service Instagram. Earlier this month, it bought Lightbox, another photography app, and Glancee, a social discovery service that uses geolocation data.

Those acquisitions show that the company, while popular, is still trying to figure out how to evolve its products to fit a fast-changing consumer market.

Joe Magyer, a senior analyst at the Motley Fool, said that average investors should take a wait-and-see approach to the stock.

“Facebook’s a great business and will grow like gangbusters,” he said. “But it would have to achieve amazing things to justify the rich price and rich valuation.”

While Magyer doesn’t think that Facebook’s stock will come back down to earth any time soon, he said the company will need to post consistent growth in its first couple of quarters.

“There’s no rush: Facebook’s going to be public for the next few decades,” he said. “You don’t need to buy it the first day.”

(Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board.)

Related stories:

Barry Ritholz- Facebook’s IPO: What does it mean for you?

Why Facebook ads are different

Facebook to offer as many as 421 million shares in IPO

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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