The IPO market has already packed it in for 2007, giving us a chance to review it before the calendar page turns.
In retrospect, the year was not remarkable in its excesses, its triumphs or itsdisasters, but there were a few trends worth keeping in mind as we sail into 2008.
Wall Street Thrives, and So Do Others
IPOs were hot in New York: According to Renaissance Capital, 234 companies went public in the U.S, raising a total of $54 billion. That's more than the 198 companies that raised $43 billion last year, and the highest count for both figures since 2000.
That's pretty good, but on a global scale it looks rather puny. A total of $312 billion was raised by IPOs globally, the
reported recently. New listings from companies in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) raised 39% of that sum, up from the 32% ratio in 2006.
And when companies from the BRIC or other countries want a listing on a foreign exchange, they were much more likely to go calling on the London Stock Exchange.
reported that international issuers raised $28.9 billion in IPOs on the London exchange, compared with the $18 billion raised on
New York Stock Exchange
The Gatekeepers Stayed Vigilant
In the first half of 2007, predictions of a stock market bubble were growing commonplace, especially in the Web 2.0 and "greentech" sectors -- there was nearly a bubble in predictions of stock bubbles.
The real bubble, we now know only too well, was elsewhere, and its collapse has -- so far, at least -- had an ameliorating effect on the IPO market.
In fact, when the ripples of the mortgage crisis reached the IPO market, they had a sobering effect. On the one hand, money looking for a safe haven ensuredthat the more promising deals in the second half of the year received a warm welcome -- oversubscribed offerings followed by healthy aftermarket pops. On the other hand, investors who were tired of being burned by risky deals turned up their noses at many other newcomers.
The result was something like a split queue for IPO candidates -- companies such as
were offered a red carpet. Others, such as
, were sent packing.
Companies with solid fundamentals were welcomed; those that needed more time in the Crockpot of private financing were not. In other words, the IPO machineresponded to market turmoil by doing exactly what it's supposed to.
Bigger Wasn't Better
Of the five biggest IPOs of 2007, three closed the year below their offering prices:
raised $4.1 billion inone of the most hyped IPOs of the year; it has sunk 26% since then. Hedge fund
is down 16%, and wireless provider
Of the other two, only electronic-market maker
was up, rising 8%. The fifth, futures and options broker
( MF), was unchanged, according to Renaissance.
That means that if you had bought $1,000 in each of the five biggest, hungriest IPOs this year, you would have been down nearly 10%. The total return of all 234 companies that went public in the U.S. was up 13%.
The Greening of China Pays Off
By contrast to the largest public offerings, two of the five IPOs with the bestafter-listing performance were Chinese alternative-energy companies:
, which went public in February and soared an astounding 384%, and
Yingli Green Energy
, which rose a much smaller but still quite impressive 256%.
Among the others that have more than doubled over their offering prices were several tech names:
, an online trading marketplace in Latin America, is up 318%; VMWare is up 193%; while online education site
American Public Education
andmedical on-demand company
climbed at least two-fold.
Of course, a stock trading well above its offering price could be one that underwriters priced too low to begin with. But the sustained confidence of investors in these stocks is worth noting, any initial mispricings notwithstanding.