I'd like a few shares of Facebook, please

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT JEWOLDT@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • Updated: May 16, 2012 - 3:27 PM
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At 28, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is considerably younger than the average Fortune 500 CEO.

Photo: Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

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So you missed out on Apple's initial public offering in 1980 for $22 a share, but you plan to make up for it with Facebook's IPO Friday?

Don't count on it unless your stockbroker has your number on speed dial.

The only people lucky enough to get shares of the IPO will be prized investors, said Mark Sherman, a financial adviser and stockbroker at S3 Inc. in St. Louis Park. "The average investor has a zero chance of buying a few shares," he said. "But if you're a big client, call your broker."

How big is big? Fidelity investors must have half a million dollars in qualified balances at the brokerage or trade 36 times per year to be considered. TD Ameritrade is taking calls from investors with $250,000 or more in account value or 30 trades in the past three months. (Do penny stock trades count? Just wondering.)

But being shut out from such an elite buying club can be a good thing, said Sherman. An IPO is priced only on good news, enthusiasm and momentum. It's better to wait for two quarters, look at the company's financials and see if it's making money. Enough shares should be available then, he said.

If you're feeling unfriended, you're still in good company. The billionaire oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, told CNN that he never buys into an offering. "The worst mistake you can make is to buy or sell based on current headlines," Buffett said.

In the meantime, slip into some jeans, Adidas sandals and a Gap hoodie. Even if you have to wait a while before the market or your startup make you a billionaire, you can at least dress like one.

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