Investors upset after Facebook, JP Morgan stumbles

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NEW YORK — Almost four years after the financial crisis, Wall Street still can’t get it right.

In this photo provided by Facebook, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (center) rang the opening bell of the Nasdaq stock market Friday from his headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this photo provided by Facebook, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (center) rang the opening bell of the Nasdaq stock market Friday from his headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

Investor anger mounted Wednesday over the initial public offering of Facebook stock last week, which was fumbled by the banks that managed the deal and complicated by technical problems at the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Shareholders filed at least two lawsuits against Facebook and Morgan Stanley, the bank that shepherded the IPO, over reports that it withheld negative analyst reports about Facebook from some clients before the company went public.

It was the second stumble this month by a major Wall Street firm. JPMorgan Chase, usually revered for taming risk, has yet to contain a growing $2 billion loss in one of its trading units.

The missteps are further eroding confidence in Wall Street and reinforcing the sense that the game is rigged.

Judson Gee, a financial adviser in Charlotte, N.C., placed a call Wednesday morning to a client who had plowed $50,000 into Facebook stock Friday, the day of the IPO.

Gee said he called to tell the client, a restaurateur, about reports that Morgan Stanley had told only selected customers about an analyst’s reduction of revenue estimates for Facebook just before the IPO.

“I could see his jaw dropping on the other side,” Gee said. “A lot of expletives came out.”

He said his client asked: “How can they give that information to the big boys and not give it to the public?”

In the final planning of the IPO, Facebook, working with Morgan Stanley, raised the total number of shares being offered for sale by 25 percent, to 421 million. They expected extraordinary demand for the stock by investors.

That appears to have been a miscalculation. Facebook stock jumped from $38 to as high as $45 in the opening minutes, but quickly sank toward $38 again. It dropped to about $34 on Monday and $31 on Tuesday.

The shareholder lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, accuses Morgan Stanley of withholding the negative analyst report from some clients while it prepared to take the stock public.

One of the investors suing, Dennis Palkon, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, said that IPOs are tricky but that “this one had a lot of glamour, had a lot of interest. It has a lot of users. I thought it’d be a pretty good investment.”

He bought 1,800 shares of Face­book at $38 through his ETrade account, meaning that after Tuesday, he was down more than $12,000 on paper.

“I think there were problems all over the place,” he said. “It was totally poor planning to raise the price as high as they did and then to add all those extra shares.”

Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the suit; it said that it had complied with regulations in how it handled analyst reports before the IPO. Facebook called the lawsuit “without merit.”

The Senate Banking Commit­tee, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators also plan to look into the IPO.

The first trading in Facebook stock, originally set for 11 a.m. Friday, was delayed half an hour by glitches at the Nasdaq Stock Mar­ket, and brokerages are sorting through problems with orders.

Someone familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak, told Associated Press that
Facebook is in talks with the New York Stock Exchange to move its stock listing there from Nasdaq.

The bungled IPO came little more than a week after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon disclosed the $2 billion loss. He has said the bank was hedging against financial risk, but regulators have questioned whether it was a gamble for profit instead, and have seized on the loss to make the case that Wall Street has not cleaned up its act.

Lisa Lindsley, the director of capital strategies for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has 1.6 million members and handles pension assets of $850 million, said the union was “very concerned about the lack of internal controls at all three firms,” referring to Facebook, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley.

Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a Democratic candidate for Senate from Massachusetts, said Wall Street has lost an image that once said, “We are solid and we will be here forever.”

“Banking should be boring,” she said, “because boring creates confidence.”

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wribbs
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wribbs 05/24/12 - 06:12 am
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I guess nobody learned their

I guess nobody learned their lesson from the dot com bubble that burst.

Facebook is a fad company that produces nothing of tangible value. In my humble opinion, the entire value of the company is based on what if's and maybes and buying stock based on that is not sound investing.If investors had remembered that, it wouldn't have mattered who had information and who didn't.

In five years nobody will be using it; remember MySpace? In ten years nobody will remember what a Facebook was.

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