Airbnb sinks as insiders become free to sell shares

Shares of Airbnb dropped almost 6% in a busy session on Monday after insiders in the home rental firm became free to sell their shares for the first time since the company’s December IPO.

It was among Wall Street’s five most-traded stocks as of mid-day, with about $3.3 billion worth of shares bought and sold, compared with an average of under $1 billion a day over the past 20 sessions, according to Refinitiv data.

The San Francisco-based company on May 13 beat Wall Street’s expectations for first-quarter gross bookings and revenue as COVID-19 vaccinations and easing restrictions encouraged more people to check into its vacation rentals.

Airbnb has weathered the pandemic better than rivals as people booked locations away from major cities in the era of social distancing. Following Airbnb’s report last week, Jefferies analyst Brent Thill called the company “the best growth story in travel.”

Airbnb said in the prospectus for its Dec. 9 initial public offering that up to 27.8 million shares, including those owned by employees, could be sold as of the second trading day immediately after the company’s first-quarter report. Airbnb has about 608 million shares outstanding, according to Refinitiv.

The shares traded down 5.7% at 133 at midday, after earlier falling as low as 130.25.

Airbnb is up 92% from the price set in its IPO, which was Wall Street’s largest in 2020, but it has fallen about 40% from its February high.

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