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Twitter's stock closes at $44.90 a share, up 73 percent on its first day

Twitter's stock closes at $44.90 a share, up 73 percent on its first day


A more conservative approach than Facebook leads to a big first day of gains

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Twitter IPO
Twitter IPO

Twitter held its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, opening its stock up for purchase to any interested investor, and as it turns out, there were many. Shortly after trading began around 9:30 AM ET, Twitter's share price rocketed well past the $26 per share minimum the company set last night, opening up 74 percent at $45.10 to start the day. It finished the day right around the same spot, at $44.90.

The minimum strike price of $26 allowed Twitter raise at least $1.8 billion dollars from the initial offering, and gave the company a total valuation of roughly $14 billion. So Twitter potentially left about $1.25 billion on the table when they set the price of $26 a share last night. But this is a delicate dance, meant to reward the bankers and their clients who agreed to buy up the stock ahead of time.

Twitter potentially left about $1.25 billion on the table

The company was most concerned about having a clean opening that will give the stock positive momentum, the opposite of what occurred with Facebook. Indeed, so far, Twitter's initial hours as a public company have been in many ways the reverse of Facebook's public offering on the rival NASDAQ stock exchange back in 2012, when computer glitches caused the stock price to slide early. The NASDAQ later paid out $10 million to settle civil charges from the US Securities and Exchange Commission over the glitches, the largest fine yet levied against a stock exchange.

"We've been preparing for this for several weeks now," said Scott Cutler, executive vice president of global listings at the NYSE. "We actually had four IPOs today, and everything went exceptionally well."

Investors are hungry for growth amid an economic slowdown

Meanwhile, Twitter is on pace to earn around $500 million in revenue this year, but so far has recorded a loss of $69 million in 2013 and does not expect to be profitable. The IPO is still a hit with investors, however, who are hungry for any opportunity to access serious growth amid a global economic slowdown.

Twitter's business is most often compared to its rival Facebook, which raised a whopping $16 billion during its IPO in 2012. Facebook has more than 1 billion users, compared to Twitter's 230 million, and had shown it could be profitable prior to going public. That makes Twitter a far riskier bet, but investors are hoping to capture more of the upside as it transitions from a young company to one with a mature business.

Twitter, founded back in 2006, has raised a total of $1.16 billion in venture capital. It has had a tumultuous history, with founders Jack Dorsey and Ev Williams battling for control. Eventually a friend of one of the founders, Dick Costolo, was brought in to restore order and put the site on a path to profitability. Under his leadership, Twitter finally managed to solve its issues with the downtime "fail whale," making it stable enough to build a real advertising business and pursue partnerships with big media companies. Sir Patrick Stewart, a recent convert to Twitter, was on hand to help ring the opening bell.

Dante D'Orazio contributed to this report.