By Alexei Oreskovic and Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 11 Shares of Facebook Inc
rose more than 3 percent to a new high Wednesday, valuing
the world's No. 1 social network at $106 billion, as investors
focused on its recent mobile advertising advances and the
potential to expand ad revenue into new areas.
The stock touched $45 at 1:50 p.m. ET and briefly hit $45.07
shortly after 2 p.m. on the Nasdaq - highs not seen since May
18, 2012, the day of Facebook's initial public offering. It
closed at $45.04.
The stock's new intraday high is the latest milestone in a
remarkable recovery following a rocky Wall Street debut, in
which traded at half its $38 offering price at one point.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a technology
conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, said the IPO process
had made Facebook stronger by forcing it to better understand
the various facets of its business.
"Having gone through what I think most people would
characterize as an extremely turbulent first year as a public
company, I can tell you I actually don't think it's that bad,"
said Zuckerberg, noting that his fears of employee defections
and low morale due to the slumping stock price were overblown.
Zuckerberg, 29, who co-founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm
room, also said he had rethought his previous view that staying
privately held for as long as possible was the best strategy.
"In retrospect, I was too afraid of going public,"
Zuckerberg said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Zuckerberg did not discuss future video ad products or plans
to make money from its Instagram unit. The mobile photo app,
acquired in 2012 by Facebook, is popular with young people but
does not carry any advertising.
With 1.15 billion monthly users, Facebook is the world's
largest social network and ranks among the top online display
Wall Street's view of Facebook improved markedly in July,
when the company said its mobile advertising revenue grew 75
percent in the second quarter, trouncing analyst targets and
delivering the company's strongest revenue growth since the
third quarter of 2011.
"The second quarter was the turning point when a lot of
their work over the last year with the newsfeed came through,"
said JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey, referring to the
format of Facebook updates that also carry mobile ads.
The stock has risen 67 percent since then.
"Mobile is very hard to get audience at scale and Facebook
is proving that it's one of those places where advertisers can
go to reach eyeballs."
Facebook has said it expects sales and user growth for its
mobile apps to outpace its desktop website.
Facebook options also traded heavily on Wednesday.
A total of 317,000 calls and 131,000 puts in Facebook
changed hands on Wednesday, above its recent combined daily
average of 355,000 contracts, according to options analytics
firm Trade Alert.
The weekly $45 strike calls expiring this Friday as well as
the September $44 and October $45 strike calls are among the
"But one play in the options market appears to be making a
'cheap' bet that the recent run higher is overdone," said
WhatsTrading.com options strategist Frederic Ruffy.
The top trade on Facebook on Wednesday was a 10,250-lot of
September $39 strike puts, which were bought for 7 cents per
contract as a new position. The contract, which is
out-of-the-money, expires at the end of next week and would be
profitable if shares fall below $38.93, Ruffy said.