May 22 - Facebook shares remain under pressure after it was revealed the Internet analyst at lead underwriter Morgan Stanley cut his revenue forecasts at the same time the bank was pitching the IPO to potential investors. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL It's day three of Facebook trading and shares remain under pressure, breaking below $31 early on, which is 18 percent below the $38 IPO price. And there's new revelation that Wall Street was less ebullient about the company's growth prospects even before the stock began trading, which may be piling pressure on, according to some investors. The tech analyst at Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on the IPO, reduced his revenue forecasts at the same time the bank was pitching the IPO to investors, making the lowered forecast known to major clients, according to two investors who were advised of the new forecasts. Hugh Johnson runs his own asset management company: SOUNDBITE: HUGH JOHNSON, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, HUGH JOHNSON ADVISORS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "In this case, of course, Morgan Stanley is not only a respected company but it was the underwriter of the shares, so it creates some confusion number 1. And number 2, it's not good news. There will be some institutional investors, savvy investors that will go from being optimistic about Facebook, buying Facebook to turning around selling it short. It's not good news for the stock." JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, also major underwriters on the IPO, also revised their estimates during the roadshow, according to sources familiar with the matter. All three Wall Street firms declined comment. The lowered outlooks came after Facebook amended its public filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, in which the social network warned revenue growth could be impacted by consumers shifting to mobile devices from desktops, which for now yields lower revenue opportunities. SOUNDBITE: HUGH JOHNSON, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, HUGH JOHNSON ADVISORS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's going to take some time to get through those so-called holders that are weak holders. It might take as much as two to four weeks before we grind through that supply and then we'll start to see the stock trade on the basis of fundamentals." Shares of Facebook are off the lows of the day. Conway Gittens, Reuters