Getting in on the Facebook IPO

David Brancaccio Feb 2, 2012

Oh sure, I could try to sell you the story today of a possible merger between two behemoths of the mining industry. Glencore stock went up about 7 percent today; Shares of Xtrata closed up nearly 10 percent. If they do come together, the Wall Street Journal estimates the combination would be worth $80 billion. 

But, let me guess, you don’t want to talk about mining.

You want to talk about that Menlo Park, California-based social media company that has now filed to sell its stock to the public for the first time. That could put a value on Facebook of $75 billion or more. But, unless you are well-connected — and being Facebook friends doesn’t count — don’t bother bugging your broker by trying to cadge some of this stock ahead of its actual launch.

Robert Pavlik, the chief market strategist at Banyan Partners in New York, says he’s getting calls, emails and even letters from clients  asking if they can get in on the Facebook IPO. “Everybody and his mother wants a piece of this deal,” says Pavlik. “The honest to God answer is that you’re probably not going to get some unless you’ve been doing a tremendous amount of commission business with one of these big institutional-type firms.”

Pavlik says it’s a bit like going into a tile shop to pick up a couple of boxes of tile to redo your bathroom: You just aren’t going to get the tiles for the same price as the contractor who buys huge amounts of tile regularly.

While the institutional investors all vie for a position on the IPO, if you’re thinking about investing in Facebook once it finally is public, which could be months from now, Pavlik says treat it like any other stock — give it a couple of days, really comb through the prospectus and take it from there.

In the meantime, even before Facebook shares hit the market, Pavlik says the buzz about the social networking site’s IPO is giving a nice boost to publicly traded tech companies such as Zynga, LinkedIn and Google. Does anyone want to start talking about a new tech bubble? Anyone?

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