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Groupon shares soar in early trading

The daily-deals provider has gone public, and investors have jumped at the chance to buy in to its stock.

Daily-deals provider Groupon has gone public at last, and its shares soared from the start.

In the opening minutes, Groupon was trading up to $29.20, a 46 percent gain on its opening price of $20 per share.

Groupon closed out its first day on the market up 30 percent to $26.11.

Investors and Groupon watchers who had been awaiting the long-anticipated initial public offering had to wait a little extra time this morning. Groupon, which trades under the ticker symbol GRPN, didn't debut till an hour or so after the start of trading on the Nasdaq.

The daily-deals company said today it is looking beyond whatever its stock does in this IPO.

"Today's a significant step in Groupon's journey, but it's not the finish line," a company represenative told CNET. "We're committed to innovating ways to change local retail for consumers and local businesses. It's great to pause and recognize what we've accomplished, but we're focused on building a long-term business that really changes people's expectations of local commerce."

Groupon has taken a long road to finally arrive at Wall Street. After announcing its IPO intentions earlier this year, the company was hit hard by the Securities and Exchange Commission over incorrect accounting practices that artificially inflated its revenue figures. After revising its revenue down, Groupon was then the victim of a difficult IPO market that caused many companies to balk at offering shares until the market turned around.

But Groupon has decided to buck that trend and try its luck with its IPO. And at $20 per share, the company got started somewhat higher than the expected range of $16 to $18 it recently mentioned in its SEC papers. At the $20 mark, Groupon is valued at $12.7 billion.

That said, there's more than meets the eye with Groupon's offering. The company currently has about 637 million shares outstanding but is expected to offer only 35 million. By doing so, the company's float--a measure of the difference between outstanding and restricted shares--is extremely small. That's significant. Typically, stocks with smaller floats are more volatile, and are thus more likely to be impacted by the changing market.

The small float also provides Groupon with more opportunities to raise cash through secondary offerings. LinkedIn, which went public earlier this year, is already planning a secondary offering that would raise another $100 million by selling more shares to stockholders.

Speaking of LinkedIn, Groupon can only hope to see the kind of success the social network for professionals did on its first day of trading in May. LinkedIn opened at $45 per share and continued to gain ground until hitting $122.70. However, over the last several months, LinkedIn's shares have dropped down to $78.36.

Update, 8:01 a.m. PT: Adds Groupon IPO information, and again at 1:24 p.m. PT to include the closing price for the day.

Update, 1:24 p.m. PT: Adds closing price for the day.