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If Only Zuckerberg Chose a Catchier Facebook Ticker Symbol
If only CEO Mark Zuckerberg had used a bit more imagination when cooking up the Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) ticker symbol, its stock might have fared a little better.
Sound crazy? Maybe, but several studies have shown that clever, pronounceable stock symbols - think Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) - do better in the market.
The phenomenon is particularly true for IPOs, with the "fun name halo" extending about 10 days out from the stock's first day of trading.
Companies that choose a ticker symbol that doesn't form a pronounceable word - yes, like Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) -- often struggle. Generally speaking, the more jumbled the letters, the worse a stock does.
"[Our] research shows that people take mental shortcuts, even when it comes to their investments, when it would seem they would want to be most rational," Professor Daniel Oppenheimer, who co-authored a 2006 Princeton University study of the subject, told Psych Central.
While the academics who have studied this have not conclusively nailed down the cause, most suspect it has to do with something called "fluency," or how easily a person can process information.
People are simply drawn more to a catchy ticker symbol like YUM than a drab one like FB.
"It is possible that [people] are initially more attracted to fluently named stocks, that they pay particular attention to those stocks, or even that they favor those stocks because they have developed an association between easily processed names and success," Adam Alter, Oppenheimer's research partner, told The Wall Street Journal.
The Science Behind Clever TickersNaturally, not every stock with a clever ticker symbol outperforms and not every stock with a subpar ticker symbol underperforms. But the broad data show a surprisingly strong relationship between a ticker and how well the stock does.
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What Drove Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) Shares to a New Low
Since Facebook Inc.'s (Nasdaq: FB) debut as a public company at $38 a share on May 18, and the stock's peak at $45 on the same day, shares have tumbled nearly 50%.
Facebook stock hit a fresh low yesterday (Tuesday), with shares reaching $17.55 before closing at $17.73.
The slump came after a trio of brokerage firms slashed their price targets for Facebook shares. The firms cited the wave of expiring lockup periods that will flood the market with close to 1.7 billion shares over the next several months.
The first lockup period expired Aug. 16, freeing a first batch of some 268 million shares. In mid-October, 192 million more shares will be let loose, and on Nov. 14 a whopping 1.2 billion shares will be free to sell.
The total is more than four times the number of shares floating on exchanges before the lockup periods began expiring.
"It's like a train coming around the corner toward shareholders, so they better get out of the way," Francis Gaskin, president of research firm IPOdesktop told the Los Angeles Times right before the end of the first lockup.
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Congrats on One Billion Facebook Users… Who Buy Nothing
Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is on the cusp of amassing one billion users, unarguably a milestone.
The last official tally of Facebook users was 955 million. Employees have become giddy in expectation of reaching the one billion mark any day now.
But, they might want to hold off tossing confetti, because the momentous occasion will also shine a bright light on the social network's shortcoming.
No matter how many users Facebook acquires, if it can't sell anything, the landmark number is useless.
As Owen Thomas of Business Insider wrote, "Bottom line: One billion users isn't cool. You know what's cool? Two billion."
Facebook Sales Estimates Slashed
The failure to monetize that many subscribers is a shame because Facebook's massive user base is an advertiser's dream if effective - but there have been no signs of future revenue growth.
That's why market research firm EMarketer Inc. recently slashed its projections for the Menlo Park, CA-based company from $6.1 billion in annual sales to $5.04 billion. Facebook continues to struggle for advertising growth, in particular the fast growing mobile market.
[ppopup id="70925"]That’s why Facebook stock should really be trading for this amount. [/ppopup]
An increasing number of Facebook users are now accessing their accounts via smartphones and other mobile devices, an area where Facebook collects a great deal less in ad revenue than it does on desktop access.
Facebook enjoyed an 88% revenue increase in 2011. EMarketer estimates Facebook revenue will rise only 36% this year and 31% in 2013.
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Facebook Stock Hits New Low, So What Now for Mark Zuckerberg?
Since Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB) hugely hyped and highly anticipated initial public offering on May 18 at $38, shares have been sliced in half, hitting a low of $19.01 in trading today (Friday).
Now, chatter is swirling that CEO Mark Zuckerberg should step down and let a more experienced executive take the helm.
"There is a growing sense that Mark Zuckerberg, talented though he may be, is in over his hoodies as CEO of a multibillion-dollar public company," Sam Hamadeh, head of research firm PrivCo, told the Los Angeles Times. "While in many cases a company founder can, and does, grow into the job, things are happening so quickly that there is precious little time here for Zuckerberg to do that."
Fueling the sentiment is Facebook's steady descent since its calamitous IPO. On Thursday, as the first lockup period ended, which allowed early investors and venture capitalists to unburden their portfolio of battered shares, the stock hit a fresh low.
Facebook's shares closed Thursday at $19.87, a far cry from its debut price and peak of $45 a share.
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Will Apple Buy Facebook? No, But It'll be More than a Friend
It's a question that was getting asked as far back as three years ago, and seems to pop up again every time the Facebook stock price hits another new low: Will Apple buy Facebook?
Some tech pundits think that because Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has so much cash -- $117 billion as of the June quarter - and lacks a presence in social media, buying Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) just makes sense.
Those with more level heads think such a move would be a spectacularly bad idea -- and extremely unlikely.
"I can see Microsoft making a stupid decision like this but not Apple - MSFT has a history of overpaying for questionable assets, being late to the game and having lost what truly innovative mojo they had under [CEO Steve] Ballmer's watch," said Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
"I think Apple knows that the Facebook model is kaput and that it's not profitable - very similar to Google in that regard, which has held off from really rolling out Google+," Fitz-Gerald added."Shareholders would revolt...and so would the institutional money."
But Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has strongly hinted at a cozier Apple-Facebook relationship.
Calling Facebook a "great company" at the D10 conference in May, Cook said, "We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them. Just stay tuned on this one."
Why Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Will Not Buy FBFacebook's shaky business model isn't the only reason Apple would shy away from buying the social media giant.
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Sorry…Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is Still Only Worth $7.50 a Share
The technorati took me to task. So did Wall Street.
They were agitated by an article I wrote in May explaining why the world's most hotly anticipated IPO, Facebook (Nasdaq:FB), was worth a mere $7.50 a share at best.
"Out of touch," one of the critics said. A "luddite" charged another.
"Doesn't grasp the significance of so many users," one Wall Street insider opined--who happened not coincidentally to work for one of Facebook's investment bankers.
Since then the social media darling has fallen another 31% to nearly $22 a share. Ten weeks later, Team Hoodie hasn't done much to merit an upgrade either.
Sorry guys...Facebook is still only worth $7.50 a share - likely less.
The Cold, Hard Facts for FacebookAt the time I reasoned that Facebook's valuation simply didn't merit the 100 times earnings IPO price of $38 a share based on comparable figures from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).
But there were a host of other factors as well.
I cited falling revenues, a lack of control over the mobile market channel, increasing distrust from customers who were voting with their feet and the concurrent departure of major advertisers like GM which will cost Facebook an estimated $10 million a year in revenue alone.
I also posited the assumption that Facebook would be unable to maintain the 100% plus growth that many investors believed was baked into the proverbial cake.
Google couldn't. Apple couldn't. And both of them are real businesses.
That's the key...real businesses.
Fact is, Facebook still hasn't figured out what it wants to be when it grows up.
Despite the fact that CEO Mark Zuckerberg does have some excellent advisors, the company isn't going to be able to hide the fact that its "business" is nothing more than a colossal time-wasting collection of personal interest items for much longer.
Other problems abound, too. All of them point to a lower share price.
[ppopup id="70925"]To continue reading please, click here...[/ppopup]
The Lesser of Two Evils: Facebook vs. GM
If you had to buy either Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) or General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), which are both down 40% from their recent IPOs, what would you do?
On Wednesday Money Morning's Shah Gilani appeared on Fox Business' "Varney & Co." to tackle that question.
With GM trading around $20 and Facebook stock hovering around $21, the share prices are both at or approaching 52-week lows, but which is the better value?
Gilani's answer may surprise you.
Watch the entire accompanying video to get a full analysis on each company.