Groupon Closes Debut Session Up 31%

CHICAGO ( TheStreet) -- Groupon ( GRPN) shares closed up more than 30% on the daily deals site's first day of trading as a public company.

Despite recent criticism of the company's accounting and concerns about Groupon's ability to turn a long-term profit, the shares opened up 40% from their IPO pricing level.

Late Thursday night, Groupon priced 35 million common shares at $20 each, above the range of $16 to $18 it had initially sought. The offering raised about $700 million and valued the company at just under $13 billion.

The stock then opened at $28 a share on the Nasdaq on Friday. Anticipating such a scenario, experts had urged investors to flip the shares at market open.

The shares went on to hit a high of $31.14 during the day's trading, eventually closing at $26.11, a 30.55% hike on the offering price.

One of the biggest challenges looming on the horizon for the newly-public company, however, is increased competition from the likes of Google ( GOOG), Amazon ( AMZN) and LivingSocial, as well as a slew of smaller firms.

Groupon also goes public at a time of ongoing uncertainty about the health of the global economy.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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