Snapchat owner's stock leaps 44% on US stock market debut

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="">Snapchat owner's stock leaps 44% on US stock market debut</a>

The value of Snapchat's owner has soared on its New York Stock Exchange debut after a flotation that valued the company at an initial $24bn (£19bn).

Snap began trading at $24 per share, representing a 41% increase on the initial offer price which was at the top end of market expectations. It later surged above $26 at one stage but closed the day 44% up.

The sale of 200 million shares demonstrated a frenzy of demand for the stock and it took almost two hours from the opening bell being rung for the opening price to emerge.

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, said of the trades: "30 million shares in the first minute tells you everything you need to know. The demand is simply too strong."

The main question for investors ahead of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) was whether Snap represented a good financial bet given varied performances for similar stocks since their own market debuts.

The fact that the shares were offered at the top end of the range, at $17, was a good indicator of strong interest.

But look at Twitter (Frankfurt: A1W6XZ - news) .

When it went public in 2013 its stock soared more than 70% on day one.

It is currently 39% down on its offer price as its user growth and other metrics consistently prove disappointing for investors.

Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB - news) shares, on the other hand, are 259% higher than on their first day of trading.

The company has proved doubters wrong in the crucial area of mobile advertising revenue, where its market share is second to that of Google.

Loss-making Snap's Snapchat app - best known for disappearing messages and use of image filters to add special effects - has proved popular with teenagers especially.

It has more than 158 million users worldwide but user growth has been slowing.

It reported a rise of just over 3% in the final quarter of last year when it had been in double figures earlier in 2017.

That has been partly put down to stiff competition from Facebook's Instagram.

Snap argues its value is in the length of time its users spend on the app, as well as the revenue opportunities that will arise through the growing trend of young people using video to interact with each other instead of text.

Lou Kerner, manager of the Social Internet Fund and a partner in the venture investment firm Flight VC, was not convinced.

He avoided the offering, concerned that Snapchat's user engagement may have peaked already.

"We know all products have life cycles - you can look at Twitter for a lesson," he said.

The shares proved popular despite the IPO being unusual in that investors got no voting power, with co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy continuing to maintain tight control.

They each landed a 17% stake worth $4bn (£3.26bn) based on the offer price in the share sale.

Mr Spiegel, 26, is no stranger to the limelight.

He is also well known in showbiz circles as he is engaged to the Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr.

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