China may be in short supply of clean water, but not of online games.
Chinese gaming publisher Changeyou.com (CYOU - Get Report) was the second-most successful IPO in terms of stock returns in 2009. Spun off by parent company Sohi.com, Changeyou.com's stock has spiked 120.7% since it came to market April 2, to close on Jan. 4 at $35.31.
Changeyou.com priced shares at $16, ahead of its expected price of $14 a share, to rake in $120 million. "It was an attractive deal compared with other companies in the space," Eric Guja, research analyst at Renaissance Capital, says.Changyou.com's bread and butter is in the massive multiplayer online role-playing game Tian Long Ba Bu, which by the end of last year had 1.8 million active playing accounts. While analysts fear Changyou.com will be unable to find success outside of this flagship title, the company launched its first game in the U.S. in November, and has three games in the works that will also be available in the states. The market for Chinese online games has seen an annual growth of 40% over the past three years, and according to iResearch, a market research firm, it will expand 20% annually over the next five years. In the third quarter, Changyou's revenue spiked 26% to $68.7 million. Rival Shanda Games' (GAME) IPO, however, has not been as successful. At $1 billion, Shanda Games was one of the most lucrative deals of the year, yet the stock has fallen 20% since it came to market on September 25. The company, a subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment (SNDA), priced about 83.5 million shares at $12.50, at the top end of its expected range of $10.50 to $12.50, yet on its first day of trading shares fell as much as 14%. Shanda Games ranks as one of the 10 worst IPOs of the year by returns.