Business review site Yelp jumps 60% in IPO debut

Investors gave Yelp five stars when the restaurant and business review website hit the stock market Friday for the first time, its shares closing more than 60 percent above the opening price.

Yelp shares ended the day on Wall Street at $24.58, a whopping 63.9 percent over the $15 initial public offering price.

With social networking powerhouse Facebook's expected $5 billion initial public offering in the wings, Yelp's successful launch on the Nasdaq proved a small but useful sign of the US market's hunger for established Internet firms.

Yelp shares jumped as high as $26.00 during the day's trading.

The company, which serves up 25 million user-generated reviews of service businesses by city across the United States, Canada and western Europe, only raised $106.5 million in the 7.1 million share offering.

But that was considered strong for a company which, seven years after its launch in San Francisco, lost $16.7 million last year on revenues of $83.3 million, mostly from advertising.

With its restaurant and nightlife reviews the website's most popular feature, the company said it had a monthly average of 66 million unique viewers in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company trades under the listing symbol "YELP."

It said it plans to use the money raised from the stock offering for general corporate purposes and possible "acquisitions of complementary businesses."

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