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Twitter prices IPO at $26 per share

The Twitter app is shown on an iPhone 4s, in San Jose, Calif. to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. AP Photo

The Twitter app is shown on an iPhone 4s, in San Jose, Calif. to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. AP Photo

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter Inc. settled on $26 a share for its initial public offering late Wednesday, above its already-higher target range.

Twitter reached the decision after a lengthy debate between the underwriters and company executives.

At $26 a share, the company would raise $1.8 billion and would have a market value of $18.3 billion.

On Monday, Twitter raised its price range to between $23 and $25 a share from an initial target of $17 to $20. The final IPO price is more than 50 percent higher than the low end of its original price estimate, underscoring the soaring demand from institutional investors.

Twitter could not have picked better timing, with its IPO coming as stock market nears record highs and the IPO market surges.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said the IPO price is in line with transactions on the private markets. Twitter traded between $26 and $28 on the secondary markets in September before private trading was halted.

“It reflects the limited supply of stock and the incredible demand for social media in general,” Pachter said.

Twitter is expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange today under the ticker symbol TWTR.

Twitter is trying to strike a balance between getting the best price and avoiding the missteps of the Facebook IPO in May 2012.

Facebook shares fell on their first trading day — in part on concern that the underwriters had overestimated the value of the company.

Twitter does not want to discourage long-term investors, some of whom have questioned whether it can wring revenue and profit from its business. But a big pop in first-day trading would suggest that Twitter didn’t raise as much money as it could have.

Columbia Business School professor Moshe Cohen said getting the IPO price right is crucial.

“Twitter is not likely to have strong financials for a long time. It’s Twitter’s job to keep the faith among investors. If the stock starts performing poorly, it makes it increasingly hard to do that,” he said.

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