Facebook on Friday sold 421 million shares of stock in a deal that valued the company at more than $100 billion. But investors, expecting a first-day pop in price, instead saw it close just 0.6 percent above the IPO price at $38.23.
As the underwriter, Morgan Stanley (NYS:MS - News) stepped in to support Facebook's stock when it fell toward its $38 IPO price shortly after it opened, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The shares spent much of the last hour of Friday trading near that price, with onlookers watching to see if it would post a $37.99 price - which it did not.
But the bank will not support the stock indefinitely, analysts said, and once that firepower is gone, funds that received IPO stock looking for a bounce may decide to bail as well.
Lead underwriters in a stock essentially "short" the stock through what is known as an "over-allotment" of shares - they sell shares to the market that they do not own. If the stock has trouble, which Facebook did, the underwriter supports it by then buying more stock at the IPO price.
Had Morgan Stanley bought all of the shares traded around $38 in the final 20 minutes of the day, it would have spent nearly $2 billion. The "green shoe" overallotment, which can be used to support Facebook's stock, is 63 million shares. At $38 per share, that amounts to $2.4 billion in firepower.
In an IPO where the stock rises significantly, the green shoe is typically exercised in the days after the debut and the company raises that additional amount. If Morgan Stanley shorted the full amount and bought shares on the open market to support the price, Facebook will not raise the extra $2.4 billion from the IPO.