Between Facebook and JPMorgan, Wall Street woes mount
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — Almost four years after the financial crisis, Wall Street still can’t get it right.
Investor anger mounted Wednesday over the initial public offering of Facebook stock last week, which was fumbled by the banks that managed the deal and complicated by technical problems at the Nasdaq exchange.
Shareholders filed at least two lawsuits against Facebook and Morgan Stanley, the bank that shepherded the IPO, over reports that it withheld negative analyst reports about Facebook from some clients before the company went public.
It was the second stumble this month by a major Wall Street firm. JPMorgan Chase, usually revered for taming risk, has yet to contain a growing $2 billion loss in one of its trading units.
The missteps are further eroding the confidence of Main Street, or what was left of it after the financial meltdown of 2008, and reinforcing the sense that the game is rigged.
Judson Gee, a financial adviser in Charlotte, N.C., placed a call Wednesday morning to a client who had plowed $50,000 into Facebook stock on Friday, the day of the IPO.
Gee said he called to tell the client, a restaurateur, about reports that Morgan Stanley had told only select customers about an analyst’s reduction of revenue estimates for Facebook just before the IPO.
“I could see his jaw dropping on the other side,” Gee said. “A lot of expletives came out.” He said his client had asked: “How can they give that information to the big boys and not give it to the public?”
In the final planning of the IPO, Facebook, working with Morgan Stanley, raised the total number of shares being offered for sale by 25 percent, to 421 million. They expected extraordinary demand for the stock by investors.
That appears to have been a miscalculation. Facebook stock jumped from $38 to as high as $45 in the opening minutes, but quickly sank toward $38 again. It dropped to about $34 on Monday and $31 on Tuesday. The stock recovered somewhat on Wednesday and climbed $1.
The Senate Banking Committee, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators also plan to look into the IPO.
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