5 IPOs Not Living Up to the Hype

NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- Many IPOs win over investors by promising growth. It's an easy promise. We all want to do well, right?

Sure, a company wants to open 100 stores. Of course, a manufacturer wants to sell millions of widgets. If that doesn't happen according to plan, that's alright because the disclosure language in IPO filings always includes a risks section that basically states everything can go wrong.

Many times new IPOs have private equity companies, who are just looking for a profitable exit, promoting all the positives while brushing off any criticism.

Here are the worst offenders of IPO companies that have promised much and delivered little:

Dunkin' Brands

The pink stores selling sugary sweets definitely sold investors an empty calorie stock. It was clear in the S-1 filing that Dunkin' Brands ( DNKN), the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins, was loaded with debt and asking a lot from its franchisees.

But investors familiar with the product seemed to look beyond the red flags and wanted in on the deal. Even the well known travails of Krispy Kreme ( KKD) weren't even enough to deter buyers.

So far, the stock has performed well, rising more than 40% since making its debut. But almost immediately after the public bought stock, the company announced that net income and profits fell. It also said that the stores will begin raising prices to offset high food costs. The company did pay down some debt, but is still has liabilities totaling $1.5 billion.

The stock ran as high as $31.94, but finished Thursday at $25.52, losing 4% in the broad market's downdraft.

Homeaway

The online vacation rental company Homeaway ( AWAY) bragged during its hyped up offering that it had $17 million in free cash flow in its March 2011 quarter. It boasted about its 220 million website visits and 9.5 million unique monthly visitors. Homeaway raised $216 million and priced shares at $27.

Then the company reported its second-quarter results. Net income fell to $2.2 million from $14.9 million a year earlier and the company blamed the falling profits on increased spending to promote the company.

The stock is still above its offering price, but has slid from its high of $43.98 to $34.98. The company insists it's growing, but another site Airbnb, which lists vacation rentals for free is quickly gaining attention and buzz. Homeaway charges $295 to list on its site. The question is how long investors plan to stay at Homeaway.

HCA

HCA ( HCA) priced its shares at $30 in March, raising $3.79 billion in the largest private equity-backed IPO in history at that time.

The hospital operator touted its market presence, saying it was in 14 of the top 25 fastest growing markets in the United States and maintains the top or second position in many key markets. But was clear in the filing that admissions had actually declined and volumes had dropped.

Still investor demand pushed the offering to the high end of the price range. Then the company had a "surprising" miss according to Credit Suisse, and the stock has dropped to the $24 range.

HCA has lowered its outlook and Credit Suisse noted that even the new forecast could be aggressive if trends didn't improve in the third quarter.

Zipcar

When Zipcar ( ZIP) went public in April, it sold its growth prospects to investors. Its key selling feature was 100 areas it had identified as attractive markets and a report stating that revenue in car-sharing programs would rise.

The stock priced at $18, ran above $30, and closed Thursday at $23.23, managing a slight increase despite the broad market's drop. This week the company reported its second-quarter results, which were favorably received by analysts but also show the money-hemorrhaging nature of this company.

Zipcar's net loss rose, costs swelled and revenue per member declined. The company did increase membership by 29%, but if it can't make money off those members, what does it matter. The company was clear in its filing that it had never made a profit and continues that trend.

As for those new markets, only two were added in the second quarter. The stock though traded up after the report though because analysts were expecting a bigger loss. Clearly, some investors see value in a company that can't doesn't make money.

Renren

The "Facebook" of China, Renren ( RENN) priced its IPO at $14 and has seen its stock run as high as $24 since its debut.

The company admitted it wasn't profitable, but said it would be "very soon." The warm reception the offering received was seen as an indication of the demand for online social media companies.

Unfortunately, Renren hasn't really panned out. The March-quarter results were delayed and disappointing. The company reported a $2.6 million loss for with flat revenue. It has forecast revenue of between $29 million and $30 million for the June quarter, a figure it's never even come close to.

Renren trots out user numbers, but it doesn't really matter how many people use the site if revenue is flat and the company is reporting losses. The quarter for June is long over, but no word on the next reporting date, and the stock is now down more than 50% since its first day of trading.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 5 IPOs Not Living Up to the Hype portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Debra Borchardt.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/wallandbroad.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

More from Opinion

Attention 60 Minutes: Google Isn't the Only Big-Tech Monopoly

Attention 60 Minutes: Google Isn't the Only Big-Tech Monopoly

Apple Buys Tesla? Amazon Buys Sears? 3 Dream Mergers That Just Make Sense

Apple Buys Tesla? Amazon Buys Sears? 3 Dream Mergers That Just Make Sense

Amazon's Assault on Grocery Stores Will Have a Profound Impact on Many

Amazon's Assault on Grocery Stores Will Have a Profound Impact on Many

It's Dumb to Think There Aren't Already Monopolies in Big Tech

It's Dumb to Think There Aren't Already Monopolies in Big Tech

Google's EU Battles Are Hardly a Reason to Panic

Google's EU Battles Are Hardly a Reason to Panic