McALESTER — If Twitter's bankers and executives were hoping for a surge on the day of the stock's public debut, they got it. The stock opened at $45.10 a share on its first day of trading, 73 percent above its initial offering price.
In what's expected to be a volatile day, the stock is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "TWTR." It's the most highly anticipated initial public stock offering since Facebook debuted last year.
The opening price values Twitter at $31 billion, which puts it in in range of KFC and Pizza Hut owner Yum Brands, tractor and tool maker Deere & Co. and slightly below State Street Corp., a financial services holding company.
Earlier in the day, Twitter gave users the opportunity to ring NYSE's opening bell instead of executives. The users included Sir Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Vivienne Harr, a 9-year-old girl who ran a lemonade stand for a year to raise money to end child slavery and Cheryl Fiandaca of the Boston Police Department.
Twitter's initial public offering, has been carefully orchestrated to avoid the glitches and eventual letdown that surrounded Facebook's initial public offering on the Nasdaq 18 months ago. Still, it's the most highly anticipated IPO since its Silicon Valley rival's 2012 debut.
On Wednesday, Twitter had set an IPO price of $26, which valued the company at more than $18 billion based on its outstanding stock, options and restricted stock expected to be available after the IPO. That already put it above Macy's and Bed Bath & Beyond. Facebook Inc.'s value, meanwhile, stood at $104 billion at the time of its IPO.
Twitter, named after the sound of a chirping bird, got its start 7 years ago, first with Jack Dorsey and then Evan Williams as CEO. Its current chief is Dick Costolo, a former Google executive who once aspired to be a stand-up comedian. On March 21, 2006, Dorsey posted the world's first tweet: "Just setting up my twttr." Noah Glass, who helped create Twitter posted the same words just 10 minutes later.