Shares of Twitter soar in early trading

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NEW YORK — It’s official. Wall Street #hearts Twitter.

Shares of Twitter soared nearly 75 percent from their offering price in the first hour after it began trading.

Twitter priced its initial public offering Wednesday night at $26 a share.

Twitter Executive rings NYSE opening bell on IPO of Twitter stock.

Twitter Executive rings NYSE opening bell on IPO of Twitter stock.

The stock debuted at 10:49 a.m. ET on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, and the first trade came in at $45.10 a share.

Shares quickly jumped to a high of $50.09 — a gain of 93 percent over the IPO price — before dropping back to about $45.30 later in the morning.

At a price near $45 a share, Twitter is valued at $24.6 billion.

Twitter’s pop is similar to that of LinkedIn, which more than doubled in its first day on the stock market.

But it was Facebook’s messy debut on the Nasdaq last year that had some individual investors worried ahead of Twitter’s IPO.

Luckily for Twitter, its offering went smoothly.

“We tried to have a very clean process [for the IPO] … the team that worked on it inside the company was very methodical,” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said on CNBC earlier in the morning.

“Phew!” tweeted Anthony Noto, Twitter’s top banker at Goldman Sachs (which led the underwriting of the IPO) after trade started.

Twitter was the most actively traded stock in the U.S. Thursday. More than 70 million shares exchanged hands in the first hour of trading.

Twitter isn’t yet profitable: Twitter raised about $1.8 billion through the sale of 70 million shares Wednesday evening at $26 a share. The offering’s underwriters also have the option to buy another 10.5 million shares from Twitter. By comparison, Facebook raised $16 billion in its IPO.

But unlike Facebook, Twitter has yet to turn a profit. The company pulled in $317 million in sales in 2012, but ended up reporting a loss of $79.4 million.

For the first nine months of 2013, Twitter’s revenue was $422 million. But losses also increased, to $134 million.

Twitter’s business model revolves around ads. Twitter runs ads for corporate accounts, specific tweets and topics, and the sponsored content is tucked right into users’ feeds.

Search for AT&T on Twitter, and a “promoted tweet” from a rival like Verizon or Sprint may pop up.

A “who to follow” box suggests a promoted corporate account like Macy’s in the top slot. Advertisers can also place “trends” — like the name of an album going on sale — in the list of topics that are popular worldwide or in a specific city.