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Published: Saturday, 3/3/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Yelp stock jumps 63% on opening trading day

Web reviewer yet to prove it makes money



NEW YORK -- Stock in the eight-year-old reviews site Yelp opened to five-star reviews from investors Friday, soaring 63 percent even though the company has yet to prove it can make money from its online recommendations.

After Yelp Inc.'s initial public offering was priced at $15 on Thursday evening, the shares gained $9.52 to close at $24.52 in their trading debut.

It's the biggest first-day gain for an Internet IPO since online real estate service Zillow Inc. surged 79 percent in its stock market debut last July. Yelp's gain wasn't the biggest for an IPO so far this year, though. Those bragging rights still belong to Proto Labs Inc., a Maple Plain, Minn.-based provider of customized parts. Proto Labs' shares soared 81 percent in their first day of trading a week ago.

Though best-known for restaurant reviews, Yelp's users have reviewed churches, strip clubs, hospitals, hotels, and high schools.

The company makes money from advertising, mostly from the businesses its users review.

In 2011, it booked revenue of $83.3 million, up 74 percent from 2010. It had a net income loss of $16.7 million last year and $9.6 million the year before. Yelp's losses since its inception total $41 million.

Yelp's IPO is the latest in the Internet stock offerings that are a prelude to Facebook's coming out party on Wall Street this spring.

After expenses, Yelp Inc. estimates it will get about $96 million from its IPO. The company sold 7.1 million shares and its charitable foundation another 50,000.

With Friday's stock price jump, the San Francisco company has a market value of $1.47 billion.

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