Here comes news about the Facebook IPO that buyers should be outraged about and goes to prove that bankers simply don’t give a rip about ethics, rules, regulations, etc… it is literally all about manipulation at every level necessary to get cash.
“Reuters‘ Alistair Barr is reporting that Facebook’s lead underwriters, Morgan Stanley (MS), JP Morgan (JPM), and Goldman Sachs (GS) all cut their earnings forecasts for the company in the middle of the IPO roadshow.
This by itself is highly unusual (I’ve never seen it during 20 years in and around the tech IPO business).
But, just as important, news of the estimate cut was passed on only to a handful of big investor clients, not everyone else who was considering an investment in Facebook.
THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM, for one big reason:
- Selective dissemination. Earnings forecasts are material information, especially when they are prepared by analysts who have had privileged access to company management. As lead underwriters on the IPO, these analysts would have had much better information about the company than anyone else. So the fact that these analysts suddenly all cut their earnings forecasts at the same time, during the roadshow, and then this information was not passed on to the broader public, is a huge problem.
Any investor considering an investment in Facebook would consider an estimate cut from the underwriters’ analysts ‘material information.’
What’s more, it’s likely that news of these estimate cuts dampened interest in the IPO among those who heard about them. (Reuters reported exactly this–that some institutions were ‘freaked out’ by the estimate cuts, as anyone would have been.)
In other words, during the marketing of the Facebook IPO, investors who did not hear about these underwriter estimate cuts were placed at a meaningful and unfair information disadvantage. They did not know what a lot of other investors knew, and they suffered for it.
Selective dissemination of this sort could be a direct violation of securities laws. Irrespective of its legality, it is also grossly unfair. The SEC should investigate this immediately.
We first heard rumblings about this last week, and we were so startled that we assumed the reports were wrong. Then, over the weekend, when Reuters reported the basic story again, we said that if it was true, Facebook IPO buyers deserved to be ‘mad as hell’ about it. And now Reuters has the details, and they sound as bad as we had feared.” – Henry Blodget at the Daily Ticker