NEW YORK( TheStreet) -- Initial public offerings surged in the second half of 2009, but not all of the deals were lucrative.
Indeed, all but two of the 10 worst IPOs of the year, as measured by stock returns, came to market in the second half of 2009. On the flip side, six of the 10 best IPOS began trading during the first half. One could argue, in fact, that during the first half of the year, only the highest quality companies were coming to the market at attractive valuations. "These initial deals were done really well," says Eric Guja, research analyst at Renaissance Capital. But in the second half of the year, specifically October and November, larger companies coming out of the private equity space became more focused on growth, Guja noted. Currently some 59 companies have come to market in 2009; only 14 of those were completed in the first six months of the year. The fourth quarter alone is on track to beat the rest of the year combined. So which of the 2009 IPOs performed most poorly -- and what can we learn from these public stock flops? Read on....
NIVS IntelliMedia Technology
While China had some of the most successful IPOs of 2009, it also had the worst. NIVS Intellimedia Technology ( NIV) makes audio and video consumer products like LCD televisions and DVD players. The company came to market on March 13 pricing shares at $3.50 each. Since then the stock has sank 37.4% to close on Dec. 8 at $2.19. In its third quarter, profit grew 22% to $5.8 million, or 14 cents a share, compared with $4.8 million, or 13 cents, in the year-ago period. Revenue also jumped 6% to $52.4 million from $49.4 million in the third quarter last year.
Another Chinese company, Chemspec International ( CPC), ranks as the second-least successful deal by stock returns in 2009. The country's largest producer of fluorinated specialty chemicals -- used in the manufacture of thin film transistor liquid crystal displays, and other electronics products -- Chemspec priced its IPO of 8 million American Depository Shares at $9 each. Each ADS represents 60 ordinary shares of the company. Since it began trading on June 24, the stock has tumbled 33.8% and closed on Dec. 8 at $5.96. "Growing competition, soft end markets, material accounting weakness and obnoxious related-party transactions are just a few of the reasons we'd cite in urging prospective investors to steer clear of this offering," Morningstar wrote in a note prior to the offering. In 2008 Chemspec reported sales of $138 million. While the company has some lofty goals -- such as doubling its total nameplate capacity -- many experts think management is being too ambitious.
Omeros ( OMER) is hoping to win in the marketplace by mixing a cocktail of existing drugs to preemptively curb inflammation during surgery. But finding commercial success with these PharmacoSurgery products won't be easy. "Rather than developing novel therapies of its own, Omeros simply repackages over-the-counter and prescription generic medications for use in its drug delivery system," Morningstar wrote in a note. "And without a novel product on its hands or a critical unmet need to address, surgeons could be hesitant to replace their current treatment practices with Omeros' pricier offerings." Omeros began trading on Oct. 8, pricing its 6.82 million shares at $10. But investors, unsure about the company's long-term potential, have since sent shares in Omeros plunging by 30% to close at $7.01 on Dec. 8. In the third quarter, Omeros reported a loss of $3.9 million or $1.34 a share, compared to a loss of $7.4 million or $2.54, in the year-ago quarter.
Vitacost.com ( VITC), an online retailer that sells health and wellness products, priced 11 million shares of common stock at $12 each, in the middle of its expected range. However, since it began trading on Sept. 24, the stock has tumbled 29% to close at $8.50 on Dec. 8. In the past four years, Vitacost's sales have grown by an average of 48%, according to Morningstar, while its operating margin improved to 13% in the first quarter of 2008 compared with just 2% in the year prior. Still, investors worry about Vitascost's long-term prospects. "We think larger companies like Amazon ( AMZN), Drugstore.com ( DSCM) and GNC can use their scale advantages to offer lower prices in the long run," Morningstar wrote in a note.
Investors are finding limited potential in Cumberland Pharmaceuticals ( CPIX). The company went public on Aug. 11, raising $85 million with an IPO price of $17 a share, but since then the stock has fallen 22% to close at $13.25 on Dec. 8. The small drug maker only produces three drugs: Acetadote, an antidote for overdoses of acetaminophen; Kristalose, a powder laxative; and recently approved Caldolor, an intravenous form of ibuprofen. Kristalose and Acetadote have just $45 million in annual revenue combined, according to Morningstar. So Cumberland is relying to Caldolor to boost profits. So far, it's working. In the third quarter, profit rose 6% to $1.3 million, or 7 cents a share, from $1.2 million, or 7 cents in the year-ago period. Revenue spiked 58% to $13.6 million, driven by Caldolor sales, the company said in a statement. And earlier this week Cumberland said it signed a licensing deal with DB Pharm Korea to sell Caldolor in South Korea. But since Cumberland has minimal research capabilities, growth is predominantly dependent on acquisitions, with about $70 million of unallocated IPO proceeds, according to Morningstar. "There couldn't be a worse time for a small drug company to launch an acquisition program," Morningstar wrote in a note. "Most big and specialty pharma companies we cover are desperate to rebuild sparse pipelines and have access to pile of cash. It's highly unlikely that Cumberland, with its limited resources, will attract a sizable or promising opportunity for a reasonable price." -- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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