Updated from 11:18 a.m. EDT
Wall Street may like electronic stock trading, but it's giving a cool reception to shares of
, one of the first electronic stock markets to go public.
The Chicago-based stock market priced its initial public offering at $11.50 a share, 19% below the $14.25 midpoint of its expected pricing range. The stock is expected to begin trading sometime Thursday on its own exchange.
The lower offering price means Archipelago, which sold 5.5 million shares in the offering, raised about $126 million, down from its original estimate of $150 million. Archipelago began its existence as an ECN, or electronic trading network.
The need for underwriters to cut the offering price is no doubt a reflection of the increasingly tough climate for IPOs and the market in general. In the past week alone, seven IPOs were postponed due to lack of interest.
Of the 145 IPOs brought to market this year in the U.S., 78 are trading below their offering prices, according to Thomson Financial. The average first day gain for IPOs is 9.7%, a far cry from the mega-gains posted during the market bubble.
The weak market for new stock offerings is making many investors queasy about the forthcoming IPO for
, the popular Internet search engine. There has been fevered speculation on Wall Street that investors are shying away from the Google IPO, the most anticipated new stock offering in years, because of concerns about the company's valuation and its reliance on an untraditional method for pricing shares.
Google is using so-called Dutch auction, in which investors submit bids proposing their own price for the stock and how many shares they intend to purchase. The process wrests a lot of control from the investment bankers underwriting the offering. A Dutch auction is supposed to help the company settle upon a fair price for its stock and avoid leaving money on the table.
Archipelago, by contrast, conducted its IPO the usual way, with underwriters determining the price for the company's shares based on their ability to find institutional investors willing to buy. The lead bankers on the Archipelago offering were
, both of which own large stakes in the electronic stock market, along with other Wall Street firms.
Archipelago's IPO comes at time that there's been much discussion on Wall Street about the advantages of electronic trading. Recently, the storied
New York Stock Exchange
, which has relied mainly on human traders for nearly 200 years, announced a plan to introduce more electronic trading into the mix.
David Menlow, president of IPO Financial network, says it's somewhat surprising Archipelago couldn't meet its original minimum offering price given the considerable institutional backing for the company. But he says the underwriters and the company may have decided it would have been worse to set the price too high and see the stock drop in aftermarket trading.
"It would be more damaging psychologically if the exchange ended up trading below its IPO price," says Menlow.
Meanwhile, Archipelago's IPO did little for other publicly traded stock, bond and options markets. In midday trading, shares of the
Chicago Mercantile Exchange
were down $2, or 1.5%, to $135;
fell five cents, or 1%, to $4.30, while
rose five cents to $9.83.