Facebook's highly-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) is tentatively scheduled to kick off on May 18, pending the success of the social network's investor "road show," sources close to the situation told the Wall Street Journal.
Like any soon-to-be-public company, Facebook and its executives are set to embark on a series of meetings with potential investors – typically known as an IPO road show – where they will privately relay their strategy and attempt to drum up financial support. Most road shows last between one and two weeks, giving further credence to the May 18 IPO date.
Sources told the Journal that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, will be involved in the process, but won't attend every meeting. Facebook's baby-faced chief executive recently caused a stir in the investor community by no-showing a March analyst meeting where the company laid out its recent financials.
Facebook executives will wait to set the final share price for the IPO until May 17, people familiar with the deal told the paper. It is widely anticipated that Facebook will raise between $5 billion and $10 billion, valuing the company at more than $100 billion.
However, investor fervor slowed recently after the social network issued less-than-inspiring first quarter results. Facebook's posted revenues of $1.058 billion, up 46 percent annually, but down six percent from the previous quarter.
The report ends two full years of sequential growth for Facebook and raises possible red flags for cautious investors. Facebook also saw its profit shrink to $205 million, down 12 percent sequentially.
The numbers raise legitimate concerns because Facebook actually increased its user base during the period in question, meaning the company's average revenue-per-user is gradually slipping. Company officials blamed the weaker-than-expected quarter on post-holiday-season advertising lulls.
Further complicating Facebook's public stock offering is the hazy IPO climate, decimated by Europe's looming financial crisis and seeds of doubt still remaining in the U.S. economy. Stay tuned – it's about to get interesting.
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