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Public has mixed feelings about Facebook ahead of IPO, poll shows

May 15, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Facebook's corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
Facebook's corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (EPA/Peter DaSilva )

WASHINGTON -- As Facebook Inc. readies its initial public offering, average Americans and investors aren't quite sure they want to hit the "like" button.

About half of the public thinks Facebook stock would be a good investment, but many others have serious reservations about the company as an investment and particularly about its ability to protect the privacy of users, according to a poll by the Associated Press and CNBC released Tuesday.

With shares set to trade on Friday, 51% of respondents said Facebook would be a good investment. But 31% said it would not be such a good investment, and 17% were unsure.

Road to IPO

Those who own stocks, mutual funds or bonds were a bit more likely to give the Facebook IPO thumbs up, with 54% saying it would be a good investment and 35% saying it would not.

Active investors were more likely than other investors to say Facebook would not be a good investment, with 38% giving it a thumbs down.

Facebook's valuation of about $100 billion makes the company overvalued, according to 62% of active investors surveyed in the poll. Just 27% said the company's value would be fairly priced and 5% said it would be undervalued.

Among all the 1,004 respondents, 50% said Facebook was overvalued.

Potentially more disconcerting to Facebook executives were the poll's broader findings about the company.

Nearly six in 10 Facebook users -- 59% -- said they did not trust the company with their personal information or have little or no faith that it would protect their privacy. Just 13% said they trusted the company completely or a lot.

And 57% said they never click on advertising or sponsored links on the site, and 26% say they hardly ever did so. A majority -- 54% -- also said they would not feel safe purchasing goods or services through the site.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg fared better in the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Although just 18% of respondents said they had deep confidence in his ability to run a large publicly traded company, 40% said they were somewhat confident.

Among active investors, 42% said they had a mostly positive impression of Zuckerberg, with 14% viewing him unfavorably. Of all respondents, 36% had a favorable impression, and 14% unfavorable.

Interestingly, people who saw the move "The Social Network," which portrayed Zuckerberg negatively, had a more favorable impression of him than those who didn't.

And 45% of respondents said Zuckerberg's age -- he turned 28 Monday -- wouldn't matter in his ability to run the company. More respondents (21%) said it was an asset than those said it was liability (11%).


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