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Frackers Drilling for IPO Dollars

NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- It looks like the most popular place for a fracking company these days is the IPO market.

Two energy companies known for their fracking technologies are going after public money even as the drilling technique continues to receive negative publicity. Natural gas prices recently hit a ten-year low and only rebounded after Chesapeake Oil (CHK - Get Report) said it would drill less.

These factors might deter some from going public but U.S. Silica Holdings (SLCA - Get Report) is seeking to raise $200 million this week through the sale of 11.8 million shares for $16-$18 each. The company is the second largest producer of commercial silica, which is a sand-like substance used in fracking as well as glass making and chemical manufacturing.

The IPO looks pricey at roughly 33X trailing earnings, especially considering Chesapeake said it was cutting gas drilling spending by $2 billion this year and EQT Corp. (EQT - Get Report) has suspended its shale-gas drilling in Kentucky. U.S. Silica projects that demand for its fracking sand will increase 15% by 2015. That seems very optimistic.

The end markets for its glass products include solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal energy systems. All of which are also experiencing decreasing subsidies and cut backs in customer demand.

On a positive note, sales did increase 14% for the nine months ended in September 2011, which is the type of growth investors would expect for a company about to go public. This comes mostly from ten customers that make up 45% of Silica's sales. IPO Desktop President Francis Gaskins, however, believes the IPO is too expensive.

Platinum Energy Solutions (FRAC) is also looking to go public this week. It's seeking to raise $140 million through the sale of 14 million shares at $9 to $11 each, and is brave enough to want the trading symbol "FRAC."

Gaskins thinks Platinum Energy's business model is seriously flawed because the customers sign short-term contracts, while the company makes long-term purchases of equipment and machinery. The company originally filed to raise $300 million in September, so it's already had to scale back its demand expectations.
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