Twitter surges 75% on debut
Sceptics who thought Twitter's first day of trading would be a repeat of Facebook's disastrous market debut were proved wrong as the social network's value soared to more than $US27 billion ($28.5 billion).
Shares opened at $US45.10 when they began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday and surged as high as $US50.08, handing the loss-making company a valuation of $US24 billion.
Twitter had given itself a $US14.2 billion price tag on Wednesday night, when the eight-year-old business priced its initial public offering at $US26 a share.
It handed the traditional task of ringing the NYSE's opening bell over to the social network's users, including actor Patrick Stewart and Vivienne Harr, a nine-year-old anti-slavery campaigner who did the honours wearing a tiara and a blue tutu.
However, the San Francisco business did not start trading for more than an hour after the exchange opened, as NYSE took its time calculating the exact opening price for the shares.
The delay briefly raised fears that there had been a technical glitch, echoing the blackout which forced the Nasdaq exchange to delay Facebook's market debut.
Twitter's initial surge also had echoes of Facebook, which placed at $US38 a share when it went public in May last year, and traded as high as $US44.50 before falling back to just above its opening price. In the following months, it fell to $US17.55, in what was seen as one of the most disastrous technology IPOs for a decade. It has only recently recovered its lost ground.
However, the similarities ended there. Twitter's shares appeared to be maintaining their momentum. In afternoon trading in New York, they were holding steady at about $US45.75 - an increase of more than 75 per cent on their IPO price.
Twitter's IPO is the biggest test of investor appetite for technology stocks since Facebook's stuttering start and will have a major impact on the valuations other dotcom companies can achieve.
However, Twitter's strong start has also stoked fears of a new dotcom bubble. Analysts have expressed concern that Twitter does not make a profit. The company, which makes money from advertising, doubled revenues to $US168.6 million in the September quarter, helped by a surge in mobile usage.
However, it saw losses widen year on year from $US21.6 million to $US64.6 million.
The business has not disclosed when it expects to move into the black. "The Twitter IPO shows the sublime and the ridiculous nature of our capital markets," said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank. "It shows how the capitalist system allocates capital to growth companies ... but these tech IPOs have become like a video game."