| NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc increased the price range on its initial public offering an average of 14 percent to raise more than $12 billion, giving the world's No. 1 social network a valuation potentially exceeding $100 billion.
The company, founded eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, raised the target range to between $34 and $38 per share in response to strong demand, from $28 to $35, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.
That would value Facebook at roughly $93 billion to $104 billion, rivaling the market capitalization of Internet powerhouses such as Amazon.com Inc, and exceeding that of Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc combined.
Facebook also extended the time frame for its $1 billion acquisition of mobile app maker Instagram, projecting that the deal would close in 2012 instead of closing in the second quarter as it had previously indicated.
Facebook provided no reason for the change, though a source familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reached out to Google Inc and Twitter as part of the agency's standard review for deals of that size.
The price increase indicates intense market demand, which means Facebook's shares are likely to see a big pop on their first day of trading on the Nasdaq on Friday, analysts said.
"It's confounding but the evidence is that if companies raise the range, they will pop more," said Josef Schuster, founder of Chicago-based financial services firm IPOX Schuster LLC. "It signals that there is such a strong demand that it will create a momentum for other investors who want to jump on."
Facebook said in its latest filing that it arrived at the higher IPO price range after one week of marketing the offering - part of a cross-country "road show" in which CEO Zuckerberg has occasionally taken the stage to lay out his vision for the company's money-making potential and its top priorities.
The Facebook range hike, coupled with strong results from Internet and social media players Groupon Inc and China's RenRen Inc overnight, contributed to a dotcom rally on Wall Street on Tuesday.
Shares of Pandora Media Inc were up 6.9 percent at $10.50 in afternoon trading, while Zynga Inc was up 8.3 percent at $8.61. Groupon was up 13.7 percent at $13.33, while Renren gained 9.5 percent to $6.01. Yelp Inc stock was up 7.5 pct at $21.55.
In the biggest-ever IPO to emerge from Silicon Valley, Facebook will raise $12.1 billion based on the midpoint price of $36 and the 337.4 million shares on offer, or 12.3 percent of the company.
At this midpoint, Facebook would be valued at roughly 27 times its 2011 annual revenue, or 99 times earnings. When Google went public in 2004 at a valuation of $23 billion, it was valued at 16 times trailing revenue and 218 times earnings. Apple Inc, meanwhile, went public in 1980 at a valuation of 25 times revenue and 102 times earnings.
Wall Street had expected Facebook to increase its price range, with investors eager to get a slice of a strong consumer brand. The IPO road show began last week and has drawn crowds of investors from coast to coast.
Facebook plans to close the books on its IPO later on Tuesday, two days ahead of schedule, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters on Monday. It is scheduled to price its shares on Thursday and begin trading on the Nasdaq on Friday.
The IPO is already "well-oversubscribed," which is why the company will close its books earlier than expected, the source said.
Facebook's capital-raising target far outstrips other big Internet IPOs. Google raised just shy of $2 billion in 2004, while last year Groupon tapped investors for $700 million and Zynga raked in $1 billion.
The IPO comes amid concerns from some investors that Facebook has not yet figured out a way to make money from an increasing number of users who access the social network on mobile devices such as smartphones. Revenue growth from Facebook's online advertising business has also slowed in recent months.
Company executives met with prospective investors in Chicago on Monday and were slated to travel to Kansas City, Missouri, and Denver, before returning to Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters.
A host of Wall Street banks are underwriting Facebook's offering, with Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs serving as leads. Facebook will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol "FB."
(Reporting By Olivia Oran in New York and Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco, additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and Matthew Lewis)