The lock-up period for some 400 million shares of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) has come and gone, but the impact is just beginning to be felt by investors. Existing shareholders hold Twitter shares at very low prices and now is finally their time to lock in those gains.
The first block of stock was released in February and was about 9.87 million shares. Those shares did not belong to the company’s executives and represented a small portion of the nearly 570 million shares outstanding at the end of December. The company also has already filed to register more than 200 million shares to use in its equity compensation program.
Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo was fast to say that he and other key executives are not selling shares. He also pointed out that no secondary offering is being filed. That does not take the shares off the market, and instead translates to a long dribble of stock rather than a one-and-done stock sale.
Going into the lockup expiration, Twitter shares were down close to 15% from their post-IPO opening price of $26 a share. The shares have put up a new 52-week low already this morning below $30 a share — absolute carnage considering that the stock traded at nearly $75 shortly after the IPO.
Twitter’s market cap has dropped from around $20 billion Tuesday to $17.2 billion Wednesday morning, and that is after hitting a new low. It is also still worth about 16 times expected 2014 sales and closer to 10 times 2015 sales.
Trading volume hit 24 million shares in the first 60 minutes of trading Wednesday, following a day in which more than 134 million shares traded hands.
The end game is that Twitter had more than just its lockup expiration to worry about. This entire notion of demonetizing content is a serious issue, because it could seriously change how Twitter users behave and how the company gets paid in the future.
Twitter shares traded down 3.7% to $30.67, after falling to a new low of $29.94. The new post-IPO range is $29.94 to $74.73.