Facebook’s new IPO range: $34 to $38 per share

Facebook filed a new amendment to its paperwork for its initial public offering, raising the range of its share price to as much as $38 per share. The new minimum price is $34 per share.

The company has bumped its share price up from its original $29-$34 range after shopping the offer around to investors, the company said in its filing. Although Facebook’s road show wasn’t a great success — thanks to complaints about chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s wardrobe, the format of the program and lingering questions about the company’s future viability — it clearly wasn’t enough to put out investors’ appetites for the stock.

The new IPO price has the potential to push Facebook over a $100 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported, in line with what many speculated after the company filed its paperwork to go public in February.

Facebook is said to be closing the books on its initial public offering Tuesday and is expected to price its stock Thursday afternoon.

The amended document also updated some language on Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, saying that the deal is expected to close in 2012, a slight change from previous documents that specifically stated the deal would close in the second quarter of 2012. One possible reason for the change could be regulatory.

A report from the Financial Times last week said that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had launched a probe into Facebook’s acquisition of the photo-sharing service. The agency often reviews merger deals as large as Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram. A Reuters report last week indicated that the FTC has contacted Google and Twitter in connection with its initial review of the merger.

Headed into the initial public offering, analysts have kicked off their coverage of the company, with target prices in the low- to mid-40s — outstripping even Facebook’s estimates, which many outside observers believe are overpriced.

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia has a “buy” rating on Facebook, with a target price of $46.

Bhatia said that Facebook’s reach, engagement, relevance and social context make it a coveted stock. “Just like Google did less than a decade ago, we believe Facebook is disrupting the worldwide advertising market ... particularly its $68B sub-segment of online advertising,” Bhatia wrote in a note to investors.

The company’s greatest potential for growth, however, lies in mobile monetization and by breaking into the Chinese market, two areas Bhatia chose to frame for potential growth rather than weaknesses in the company’s business model.

Even without weighing mobile customers and China too heavily, Bhatia said he believes Facebook can triple its revenue over the next four to five years.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter also has high hopes for Facebook, initiating coverage by pricing the company’s shares at $44. According to Dow Jones Newswires, Pachter expects Facebook to see revenue growth in mobile and in online payments from apps or other games.

Pachter, of course, is the one who set off additional scrutiny of Mark Zuckerberg’s attire when he told Bloomberg that the executive’s decision to wear a hoodie instead of a suit to the road show was a “mark of immaturity.”

Concerns about Zuckerberg’s ability to lead the company are a serious matter for Facebook, as the 28-year-old executive will have 67 percent of voting shares following the company’s market debut. Facebook, even as a public company, is still very much in the hands of its co-founder.

Although Zuckerberg might be the one who stands to benefit most from Facebook’s market debut, a report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that he won’t be the one to ring the bell when the stock hits the market.

Citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter,” a report from the Journal’s Digits blog says that Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg will be at Facebook’s headquarters, while others will “likely be” in New York at the market’s open.

As the Journal noted, it’s not unheard of for a CEO to be away from the trading floor in New York when a company goes public — for example, Zynga’s Mark Pincus rang the bell remotely from San Francisco when the social gaming company began trading.

(The Washington Post Co.'s chairman and chief executive, Donald E. Graham, is a member of Facebook's board of directors.)

Related stories:

Facebook launches an app center

Facebook IPO: Oversubscribed, social network set to close books, report says

Would you pay to promote a Facebook post?

Facebook IPO: Addressing the mobile problem

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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