AP-CNBC Poll Examines Investor Sentiment Around The Upcoming Facebook IPO

Findings Show Americans Are Mixed On Whether Facebook Is A Good Investment

A Majority Of Facebook Users Do Not Trust The Social Networking Site With Their Personal Information, Never Click On Advertising And Would Not Feel Safe Making Purchases Of Goods And Services On It

Nearly Two-thirds Of Active Investors Think Facebook Will Be Overvalued At $100 Billion

May 15, 2012, 00:05 ET from CNBC from ,The Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., May 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Days before one of the most highly anticipated IPOs in recent history, an AP-CNBC poll found that investors have mixed opinions on both investing in Facebook and its leader, Mark Zuckerberg, and strong opinions when it comes to trust, purchasing and advertising on the site. Key findings include: 

  • About half (51 percent) say Facebook stock would be a good investment to make while 31 percent say it would not be so good and 17 percent just aren't sure
  • Among those who own stocks, bonds or mutual funds, 54 percent say Facebook would be a good investment, 34 percent say it would not. Active investors (38%) are more likely than other investors (30%) to say it wouldn't be a good investment.
  • Half of Americans (50 percent) say a Facebook valuation of nearly one hundred billion dollars - larger than Ford and Kraft but smaller than Google and Coca-Cola - would be too high. Among active investors, 62 percent say they think Facebook will be overvalued, 27 percent think it will be fairly priced and 5 percent believe it will be undervalued. 
  • A majority (59%) of Facebook users do not trust the site with their personal information and have little or no faith in the company to protect their privacy.  A slight minority (13%) trust the company completely or a lot. 
  • About 8 in 10 Facebook users surveyed say they hardly ever (26%) or never (57%) click on online advertising or sponsored content when using the site.  
  • Most (54%) say they would not feel safe purchasing goods and services on Facebook. Among the site's most frequent users, half say they would not feel safe making purchases through the site.

Mark Zuckerberg inspires tepid confidence as a leader though more view him favorably than unfavorably.  

  • Just 18 percent of Americans have deep confidence in Zuckerberg's ability to run a large publicly traded company like Facebook, another 40 percent say they are "somewhat confident."
  • About a third of the public (36%) has a favorable impression of the Facebook founder, while 14 percent hold an unfavorable opinion and 20 percent say they've never heard of him or don't know how they feel. Among active investors, 42 percent have a mostly positive impression of Zuckerberg while 14 percent view him unfavorably.  
  • The Social Network filmgoers have a more favorable impression of Zuckerberg than others (51% favorable compared to 31% among those who have not seen it).  
  • More than 4 in 10 said Zuckerberg's age would have little impact on his leadership abilities. His age is actually seen more as an asset (21 percent help) than a liability (11 percent hurt).

Facebook as a whole scores a net positive favorability rating, with 51 percent holding favorable impressions of the company compared to 23 percent who have an unfavorable impression. Facebook fares much better in terms of favorability compared to Twitter - with only 27 percent of those surveyed holding a favorable impression of Twitter. However, Facebook lags behind perceptions of tech giants like Google (71 percent favorable), Apple (71 percent favorable) and Microsoft (71 percent favorable).

Fewer people have an opinion about Twitter than do so about Facebook: 28 percent express a neutral opinion about Twitter, 4 percent say they've never heard of it, and 14 percent aren't sure what their opinion of Twitter is. On the other hand, 17 percent of those polled have a neutral opinion of Facebook, 2 percent have never heard of it, and 7 percent don't know what they think.

The public is divided on Facebook's future prospects.  Forty-three percent say they think the social networking leader will be successful over the long term while 46 percent feel it will fade away as new things come along. There is a sharp divide on this question between users of the site and non-users - 51 percent who use it think it will be a long-term success compared with just 35 percent of non-users. Investors are a bit more likely than others to express optimism about the company's long-term prospects, 48 percent think it will be successful in the long run compared with 42 percent of non-investors.

A majority of Americans say they personally have a Facebook page (56 percent), up from 48 percent in a Gallup/USA Today poll last fall, and about 3 in 10 in the new poll say they use Facebook every day, similar to the share using it that frequently in the Gallup/USA Today poll. Younger adults are the heaviest users, with a third (32 percent) of those under age 35 saying they visit Facebook several times a day. Among those who do not have a Facebook page, 35 percent say they lack interest in it or prefer not to spend their time on it, while 22 percent avoid it because they think it's a bad thing, inappropriate, or just not for people their age. 

Complete poll results are available at http://facebook.cnbc.com

The Associated Press-CNBC Poll was conducted May 3-7, 2012 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.  It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,004 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.


Jennifer Dauble

Paul Colford

SOURCE CNBC; The Associated Press