Facebook on track to go public May 18: WSJ

Facebook is on track to make its historic multi-billion-dollar debut on Wall Street on May 18, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Executives from the social network plan to begin a financial roadshow next week, going to various cities to discuss Facebook's prospects with potential investors before the initial public offering, the newspaper said.

The Journal said that if the roadshow goes smoothly, Facebook will begin trading on May 18 or possibly a day or two later.

The timing of Facebook's much-anticipated IPO was put in doubt after the company spent a billion dollars on hot photo-sharing smartphone application Instagram and another $550 million to buy patents from Microsoft.

Those kinds of major purchases by a company typically require the US Securities and Exchange Commission to review updated IPO paperwork.

Facebook will trade under the symbol "FB" in a record-setting IPO on the technology-heavy NASDAQ, according to its SEC filing.

Facebook could raise as much as $10 billion in the largest flotation ever by an Internet company on Wall Street.

The social networking star last month reported that its quarterly profit slipped to $205 million despite a surge in revenue as it bumped up research and promotion expenses ahead of its stock market debut.

Facebook said its net income in the quarter ended March 31 dipped from the $233 million logged in the same period last year despite revenue vaulting to $1.06 billion.

While revenue improved year-over-year, it was down about six percent from the previous quarter.

The number of people using Facebook had risen to 901 million by the end of the quarter, Facebook said in an updated SEC filing.

Facebook, which is shifting operations to a former Sun Microsystems campus in the California city of Menlo Park, was launched eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg from his Harvard University dorm room.

Revenue nearly doubled to $3.7 billion in 2011, with most of it coming from targeted advertising gleaned from personal information shared by the hundreds of millions of users of the platform.

Facebook is the leading social network in all but six countries, notably China and Russia. Its value has been estimated at between $75 billion and $100 billion.

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