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In ADM's Bio-Bailout, Red Flags for Recent IPO Darlings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Fortunes shift quickly for IPO darlings, and that's been the case with bioproducts companies that successfully went public in the past two years. Their stocks have crashed, in some cases, spectacularly so.

Now, an announcement from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM - Get Report) that it's bailing out of a bioplastics joint venture -- it was going to use ADM agricultural feedstock to make bioplastics that would replace petrochemical products -- highlights that it's not just the stock values of bioproducts plays that can falter, but the funding and support for small bio companies from big balance sheet partners.

That's a red flag that has always been inherent in making a bet on the bioproducts class, but as of yet, hadn't been exposed in a publicly traded bioproducts company.

Shares of ADM's jilted bioplastics partner Metabolix (MBLX - Get Report) fell by 55% on Friday -- the termination of the joint venture was announced after the close on Thursday.

Shares of other recent bioproducts IPOs weren't impacted by the ADM bailout, but these companies have all fallen far from their IPO prices already. KiOR (KIOR) is down 34% since its 2011 IPO. Gevo (GEVO) is down 65% since its 2011 IPO. Amyris (AMRS), down 35% since its Oct. 2010 IPO. Solazyme (SYZM), down 48% since its June 2011 public offering.

All of these bioproducts IPOs had one trading theme in common: They were great for a deal flip, and that's about it. Shares of each of these stocks went higher immediately after the IPO pricing, only to eventually fall to an even greater degree than they rose , and they are still years from sustainable revenues and proven large-scale commercialization.

There are between 10 and 12 bioproducts companies still in the IPO pipeline at the start of 2012, but given the performance of the most recent offerings, it is hard to imagine a big crop of bio-IPOs making it this year.

ADM has now given investors another reason to be wary of Wall Street's efforts to take these companies public.

"I think it is relevant to all deals. I think there will be a lot more scrutiny of the 10-12 deals filed in this space right now," said Stifel analyst Jeff Osborne.
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