Wednesday told the tale of two
IPOs and two very different issues.
One was large, a spinoff, which listed on the
New York Stock Exchange
and priced below its range. It closed up about 8%. The other was a whole lot smaller, an independent provider of communications technology, which listed on the
Nasdaq Composite index and priced above its range. It closed up about 54%.
The dichotomy in background and performance of the two stocks underscores the varying ingredients necessary for success in a new-issue market dominated by the continued slide of the
Dow and Nasdaq. Many companies have
refrained from going public in this environment, resulting in a limited selection of IPOs that generally haven't caught investors' interest.
Witness the two companies that went public Tuesday.
, which makes components for broadband wireless systems, and
, which runs business centers, experienced less-than-sparkling debuts, rising less than 1% and 6%, respectively.
"On a selective basis, the market is still there," says Joe Hammer, managing director of capital markets at investment bank
Adams Harkness & Hill
. "But it's becoming more and more selective."
, a purveyor of so-called Frankenstein seeds, lumbered onto the market with dampened expectations Wednesday. There were questions of whether the market was ready to absorb a $700 million issue of 35 million shares.
To get the issue to market this week, the biotechnology company, which makes herbicide and produces genetically altered seeds, settled for a lower-than-expected price of $20 a share. The range had been $21 to $24. Consequently, shares of Monsanto ended the day up almost 8%, after earlier falling below the issue price.
"You price it to sell," notes Hammer, whose firm wasn't an underwriter in the offering.
St. Louis-based Monsanto is a spinoff of drug maker
, which was created through the
merger earlier this year of
Pharmacia & Upjohn
and Monsanto. The agricultural products business has been hit by increased competition as well as considerable criticism for the development of genetically modified foods.
(XXIA:Nasdaq) enjoyed a spectacular debut, especially in this rough market, up 83% by midday after rising as much as 101%. Trumpeted as the "sleeper deal of the week" by George Nichols, a stock analyst at
, the Calabasas, Calif.-based company managed to price above its range in a downmarket. It sold 5.5 million shares at $13, above its range of $10 to $12. (Morningstar doesn't underwrite stocks.)
"It must have had a very strong book," Hammer adds, referring to demand for the issue. (His firm wasn't an underwriter on the Ixia offering.)
Ixia occupies a sophisticated niche: the making of equipment that analyzes network performance. And, in a novel twist, it boasts strong financials. Ixia is profitable and has been for eight quarters, recording a 233% increase in gross profit to $22.6 million for the six months ended June 30 compared with the year before. Net revenue increased 244% to $28.3 million in the same period.