Facebook trades briefly above $38 IPO price for 1st time

Facebook shares traded above $38 on Wednesday, marking the first time they've been above the IPO level since the rocky launch in May 2012
Facebook shares are trading above their IPO price for the first time ever. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Facebook's stock has passed its $38 IPO price for the first time since its rocky public debut last May, crossing a symbolic hurdle that has eluded it for more than a year.

Shares of Facebook Inc. traded as high as $38.31 in the first hour of market action Wednesday. That's the highest the stock has traded since the company's highly anticipated initial public offering ended with a thud. The stock is up by more than 50 per cent since last week. The shares subsequently fell back in later trading, closing at $36.80 US, off 83 cents.

The world's biggest online social network has been on a roll since reporting stronger-than-expected earnings on July 24. Investors are especially upbeat about its fast-growing mobile advertising revenue.

Facebook's ability to grow mobile revenue was one of the biggest concerns in the weeks leading up to its IPO last year. Investors were worried that its ad business was not migrating to mobile gadgets as quickly as its user base. Facebook urged patience.

Facebook 3-month trading chart

In the April-June quarter, Facebook derived 41 per cent of its ad revenue from mobile advertising, or about $656 million of $1.6 billion. That's up from zero in the spring of 2012 and from 30 per cent in the January-March quarter of this year. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week that the company has "made good progress growing our community, deepening engagement and delivering strong financial results, especially on mobile."

Still, Facebook has room to grow. Research firm eMarketer expects Facebook to increase its mobile advertising revenue more than fourfold to more than $2 billion this year. This would give the Menlo Park, Calif., company a 13 per cent share of the global mobile ad market, up from about 5 per cent last year.

Facebook is currently No. 2 in mobile ads, well behind Google. EMarketer estimates that Google had a 52 per cent share of the global $8.8 billion mobile ad market last year. This year, the firm expects Google's share to grow to 56 per cent.