Initial public offerings took as much of a late-summer vacation as the bankers who underwrite them and the fund managers who buy them. But investors eager to slake their thirst can look forward to the 39 companies tentatively slated to go public this month.
But whether they'll actually get shots at all of those offerings is another story.
"The problem is that if you look too far in the future, everything is subject to change," warns Randall Roth, a senior research analyst at
, which manages the
IPO Plus Aftermarket
fund. "An IPO scheduled for next month still might not happen next month. It all depends on market conditions."
And those market conditions are rather particular. Investors still are searching for quality companies in certain sectors, which means some of the scheduled offerings may remain just that -- scheduled.
"The climate is no longer suited to companies with meager financials," says Yusuf Haque, an analyst at financial portal
As elementary as it may seem, the climate changed when investors became less willing to throw their money haphazardly into offerings. "They are pretty concerned with quality," says Brian Anderson, a managing director in the equity capital markets division of
U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray
In addition, there simply may be too many offerings scheduled.
"They can't get
the deals done and they can't price them because of sensory overload," Roth says. "It's not that the market can't absorb them all. It's a matter of paying attention. Investors want to know how an issue stacks up to all the other offerings, but to get the total picture is tough when people are overwhelmed. So a lot
of deals go by the wayside."
The crowded September calendar is partly the result of a large backlog of companies that delayed their debuts over the last few months as they waited for a kinder, gentler market. After an early-2000 IPO frenzy, with 54 issued in February and 52 in March, the number dropped to 35 in April and a low for the year of 21 in May. There was a rebound to more normal levels of 33 in June and 38 in July.
The delayed issues are the lucky ones, as the more unfortunate issues were
killed. Take the proposed IPO of
, the service which delivers items like videos and food to customers who place their orders over the Internet, which shelved its plans to go public and announced a new round of layoffs on Aug. 18. The company lost $26.3 million on revenue of $3.5 million in 1999.
Despite the vagaries of the IPO market, investors are likely to be receptive to companies in popular sectors, namely telecommunications and infrastructure. "The market is generally coming through with some nice numbers and the economic environment is satisfactory," Haque says. "Things are looking better than when inflation was on everyone's mind and everyone was concerned about the level of interest rates. In an environment of benign inflation, investors don't doubt the tech sector."
Here are the more interesting issues on the list for September:
, due to go public the week of Sept. 25, makes switches and software used by service providers to deliver communications between computers and computer systems.
"It's a member of the telecommunications and computer-networking equipment sector, which is bulletproof," says Roth. Other members of the sector include
jumped 216% on its first trading day, and
climbed 135% on its first day, both in July. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company is expected to offer 10 million shares, priced in the $15 to $17 range (up from the previous $13 to $15).
Asia Global Crossing
-- a joint venture between
, which owns 93%, and
, which each own 3.5% -- provides data and voice communications to businesses and telecommunications carriers in the Asia Pacific region over its fiber-optic networks.
"The business is something that people are convinced by, and there's no question that Global Crossing has an ability to execute its plans," Haque says. "During the build-out phase, there are high capital expenditures, but once the networks are in place, it's a very lucrative space." Indeed, the company, based in Hamilton, Bermuda, is currently building the East Asia Crossing, a fiber-optic network that is projected to stretch across the entire region. Asia Global Crossing is scheduled to sell 53 million shares to the public at a price in the range of $14 to $16.
, based in Alpharetta, Ga., designs and develops products that are used by carriers like
to enhance the delivery of high-speed Internet access over existing copper telephone lines. Elastic claims to have better speed, deployability (the ability to integrate a product with a pre-existing service) and pricing.
The market for Elastic's products is certainly a promising one in the short-term, as users still have plenty of trouble downloading Web pages. Long-term prospects are questionable though, as optical networks increasingly become the standard. Copper networks transmit information using pulses of electricity, while optical networks use pulses of light modulated by lasers. The 7.8 million issue is set to be priced in the range of $10 to $12.
provides memory products, including flash technology used in portable digital devices, such as digital cameras and MP3 digital audio players. In a "blazingly hot" sector, the company has a "real business and real revenue," says Roth. In 1999, the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company had $192.3 million in revenue and $12.5 million in net income.
"It's in a great market.
have complained of a shortage of flash," says George Nichols, a stock analyst at
, which doesn't underwrite offerings. "But I'm concerned that it's not top tier. There are eight or nine competitors out there, including Japan's
Advanced Micro Devices
In addition, there are
concerns that flash providers are building too much capacity.
Simple Technology is scheduled to offer 6.36 million shares at $10 to $12 apiece.
One anomaly in the group is
, a seeming throwback with its business-to-business operation which provides a marketplace for information technology products. In 1999, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company recorded $33.1 million in revenue and $1.2 million in net income. Roth isn't certain that this issue will skyrocket on its first day of trading, but he points out that it "should raise an eyebrow because
the company's affiliation with the B2B sector is in such stark contrast to everything else that's out there." MoreDirect is expected to offer 5 million shares to the public at a price between $11 and $13.