With IPO looming, Facebook boosts stock price range

Despite Zuckerberg's hoodie and concerns about mobile strategy, Facebook IPO furor heats up

Facebook has raised the price range of its stock shares just days before the company's highly anticipated initial public offering.

The social networking pioneer Tuesday filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission an amendment to its IPO registration that increases the estimated stock price to between $34 and $38 per share.

Facebook had initially planned to sell the stock for between $29 to $34 per share.

"Clearly, the Facebook IPO has generated a lot of excitement," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research. "It reflects the market for the stock.

The amendment was filed following an IPO road show where top Facebook executives like CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg pitched the company's stock to potential investors in several cities. .

The increased share price indicates that Facebook has overcome some well publicized criticisms of its road show and strategy.

Zuckerberg, for instance, was panned for showing up at an investor presentation wearing jeans and a so-called "hoodie" sweatshirt. The casual attire and attitude prompted some attendees to publicly question his ability to lead a public company -- particularly one that is expected to have the largest IPO in tech history.

Other industry experts have in recent days questioned whether Facebook can generate revenue by developing products for the burgeoning mobile tech market. As users increasingly spend more time accessing Facebook from mobile devices, industry analysts say it's past time for the company to figure out how to profit from that sector.

Despite such questions, though, Facebook IPO expectations continue to grow, prompting the decision to boost the share price.

"The roadshow was certainly effective with the general public, mostly through coverage in the general media," said Gottheil. "I can't really assess what it did with investment professionals. But there is widespread interest."

Facebook is largely expected to be closing the books on its IPO this afternoon and then officially price its stock on Thursday.

The new price range could boost Facebook's valuation to more than $100 billion.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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