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LinkedIn debut lives up to the hype Add to ...

LinkedIn Corp. shares more than doubled to $103.00 (U.S.) in their public trading debut on Thursday, a jump reminiscent of the heyday of investors' love affair with Internet stocks in the late 1990s.

The shares soared 128 per cent, or $58.64, to $103.90 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange - far exceeding the $45 initial public offering price.

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The stampede for the stock brings the valuation of LinkedIn - which less than a decade ago was no more than an ambitious idea and a computer in one guy's living room - to more than $8-billion.

LinkedIn is the first prominent U.S. social networking company to publicly test just how hungry investors are for anything social-media related on the Web such as Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga.

Such exuberant debut trading in recent years has been the perogative of Chinese Internet stocks, unmatched by their U.S. peers. LinkedIn is the first U.S. Web company to replicate the jump, marking the biggest first-day price jump since shares of Qihoo 360 Technology Co, China's third most-popular Internet company, surged 134 per cent in their NYSE March 30 debut.

INDIVIDUALITY

But LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner shrugged off the trading craze or even worries that the pricing underestimated the appetite for the stock.

"Speaking for myself, personally I'm not even thinking twice about where the price is today and leaving money on the table or even anything remotely along those lines," he said, adding that the stock "will take care of itself" and trade on fundamentals.

He also cautioned against viewing LinkedIn as a proxy for other big-name IPOs potentially coming to the markets, saying they will also be driven by those companies' fundamental values - which are, in turn, far from echoes of the dot-com bubble.

"The fundamentals of the companies that are category leaders in terms of their respective social platforms are very, very different from what we saw in the late 90s and early 2000s," Mr. Weiner said.

LinkedIn, which runs a professional social network online, raised $352.8-million on Wednesday by selling about 8 per cent of the company, or 7.84 million shares, for $45 apiece. The company increased its anticipated price range by $10 on Tuesday to $42 to $45 per share.

The company's shares were sold at about 17.5 times its 2010 sales. By comparison, Google Inc's shares are valued at about six times 2010 sales.

Underwriters on the IPO were led by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan.

 
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