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Twitter or Tweeter? Investor mix-up creates trading confusion

NEW YORK — A bankrupt electronics retailer appears to have gotten caught up in the investor fervor for Twitter.

Shares of Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc. rose as high as 15 cents Friday. That’s up 1,400 percent from Thursday’s closing price of 1 cent. And trading volume skyrocketed to 14.4 million shares. Over the past year, the daily average was about 29,000, according to FactSet.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street’s industry regulator, said the shares were halted Friday afternoon because of a misunderstanding related to the “possible initial public offering of an unrelated security.”

What could have gotten investors so confused?

Tweeter trades over the counter, under the “TWTRQ” symbol.

Twitter on Thursday offered investors details about its highly anticipated IPO and proposed the stock symbol “TWTR.”

But San Francisco-based Twitter’s stock won’t be available for trading until the company actually goes public. That could be before Thanksgiving.

Twitter has about 218 million, far fewer than Facebook, which has more than 1 billion. But celebrities, from Oprah Winfrey to Britney Spears to President Barack Obama, are on it. And many TV networks and news organizations encourage people to follow their Twitter pages in order to start a conversation with viewers and promote their shows.

Twitter said that it expects to raise about $1 billion in its IPO.

And Tweeter? The chain was founded in 1972 and had been based in Canton, Mass. It sold TVs, audio equipment and other electronics, but the stores disappeared years ago. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007 and closed the stores in 2008.

Tweeter’s over-the-counter stock was worth 5 cents before trading was halted Friday.

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Follow Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani

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