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Facebooks New Gift Giving Feature Comes Just in Time for the Holidays

Update Date: Sep 28, 2012 11:12 AM EDT

In the 1990's internet stocks were booming. Initial Public Offerings routinely broke records, but this is a new day and many people, including Wall Street brokers are wary. An idea which started as a way for college kids to meet blossomed into the largest, most-anticipated IPO since the recession started.

Prior to IPO, the target price of the stock of Facebook steadily increased. In early May, the company was aiming for a valuation somewhere from $28 to $35 per share ($77 billion to $96 billion). On May 14, it raised the targets to $34 to $38 per share. Strong demand, especially from retail investors, suggested Facebook could choose a relatively high offering price. Ultimately underwriters settled on a price of $38 per share, at the top of its target range. This price valued the company at $104 billion, the largest valuation to date for a newly public company.

Since becoming a public company, investors have put pressure on Facebook to ramp up revenues. Shares of Facebook have been sliced by more than half following its debut. Facebook stock traded 1.5% lower at $20.32 yesterday, but rebounded 1.2% to $20.56 in after-hours trading following the news that the company will roll out a gift giving service. That's down from a 52-week high of $45.

Facebook Gifts, a new service that will eventually let its more than 950 million members exchange gifts from their profiles. Starbucks, Magnolia Bakery and 1-800-Flowers are among Facebook's 100 launch partners. Gifts, which will be available through Facebook's site and Android app, is being pushed out randomly to a small slice of Facebook users in the U.S. An iPhone app is expected to come within weeks.

Online gift-giving could prop up Facebook's promise to investors for mobile advertising and increased revenue.

"It's a good signal that they are experimenting with ways to monetize their user base," says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

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