NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- Despite all the hype from the Facebook filing, 2012 is off to a slow start when it comes to IPO activity.
According to Renaissance Capital, only 8 IPOs have priced so far in the U.S. and just $800 million in proceeds have been raised. This week, 12 offerings are still on the docket after Erickson Air-Crane postponed.
Unfortunately, this looks like a case of quantity over quality and there's a lot to avoid. Caesars Entertainment (CZR) didn't exactly get off to a promising start when it delayed its pricing on Monday, citing a "technical glitch."
The casino operator was able to pull off the pricing on Tuesday though, raising $16 million through the sale of 1.8 million shares at $9 each, the midpoint of its range. This one looks like a real gamble as the company is highly leveraged and will probably use new shareholder money to relieve some of debt pressure.Caesars isn't the only dodgy offering this week, Ceres (CERE) is a close second. It's a biotech agriculture company that uses crops to generate fuel. The only problem is that the government is beginning to extract itself out of the energy crop subsidy business. Plus Ceres competes against giants like Dow Chemical (DOW) and Monsanto (MON). Ceres is hoping to raise $110 million on Thursday, seeking to sell 5 million shares at $21 to $23 each. Then there's GSE Holdings (GSE), which tried to go public last year and postponed as the IPO market ground to a halt. GSE makes plastic membrane covers for use at garbage dumps and mines. It's a loss maker that's looking to sell 7 million shares at between $8 to $10 each, aiming to raise $63 million by Friday. Cancer drug developers are a hot IPO trend so far this year and the current week brings two more to the market. ChemoCentryx (CCXI) is a biopharma company focused on discovering, developing and then commercializing drugs to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer. Its hook is small molecule targeting, and the company wants to raise $60 million for further clinical testing. It's offering 4 million shares with a pricing range of $14 to $16 per share. A price-to-sales ratio of 68.3X (at the midpoint of the range) for a company with no products seems expensive. TVAX Biomedical (TVAX) is looking for $20 million from the market in order to fund its clinical trials too but it's really too small for retail investors to bother with. Roundy's Parent (RNDY)is the largest offering of the week, and it priced on Tuesday, reportedly selling 19.2 million shares at $8.50 each, raising $163 million. A grocery store chain based in the Midwest, Roundy's sold more stock than expected but at a lower price compared to a projected range of $10-$12 each. It had been looking to bring in $200 million. Roundy's has good cash flow and says it plans to pay a hefty 8.4% dividend. IPO Desktop President Francis Gaskins warns investors not to get sucked into those promises. "In order to pay that dividend, Roundy's would have to pay out 73% of its net income, leaving little room for growth capital," said Gaskins. He also points out that its competitors Safeway (SWY) and Kroger (KR) only pay out 36% of their earnings.
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