NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- It looks like the most popular place for a fracking company these days is the IPO market. Two energy companies known for their fracking technologies are going after public money even as the drilling technique continues to receive negative publicity. Natural gas prices recently hit a ten-year low and only rebounded after Chesapeake Oil ( CHK) said it would drill less. These factors might deter some from going public but U.S. Silica Holdings ( SLCA) is seeking to raise $200 million this week through the sale of 11.8 million shares for $16-$18 each. The company is the second largest producer of commercial silica, which is a sand-like substance used in fracking as well as glass making and chemical manufacturing. The IPO looks pricey at roughly 33X trailing earnings, especially considering Chesapeake said it was cutting gas drilling spending by $2 billion this year and EQT Corp. ( EQT) has suspended its shale-gas drilling in Kentucky. U.S. Silica projects that demand for its fracking sand will increase 15% by 2015. That seems very optimistic. The end markets for its glass products include solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal energy systems. All of which are also experiencing decreasing subsidies and cut backs in customer demand. On a positive note, sales did increase 14% for the nine months ended in September 2011, which is the type of growth investors would expect for a company about to go public. This comes mostly from ten customers that make up 45% of Silica's sales. IPO Desktop President Francis Gaskins, however, believes the IPO is too expensive. Platinum Energy Solutions ( FRAC) is also looking to go public this week. It's seeking to raise $140 million through the sale of 14 million shares at $9 to $11 each, and is brave enough to want the trading symbol "FRAC." Gaskins thinks Platinum Energy's business model is seriously flawed because the customers sign short-term contracts, while the company makes long-term purchases of equipment and machinery. The company originally filed to raise $300 million in September, so it's already had to scale back its demand expectations.
Another issue for Platinum Energy is that it's dependent on two customers for the bulk of its business, Encana and Petrohawk, both of which can terminate their deals with the company at any time, with or without cause. With decreased drilling for the very plentiful natural gas, Platinum Energy may be thinking it had better go public before the market dries up. Also seeking to go public this week is Matador Resources ( MTDR), which is involved in oil and gas exploration and production, but is more heavily weighted to natural gas. Matador has drilled in several areas that are affiliated with Chesapeake. That combined with a warm winter causing lower demand and a plunging commodity price has made Matador less appealing. The company is seeking to raise $200 million through the sale of 13.3 million shares at $14 to $16 each. In a bad sign for these deals, Dynamic Offshore Resources ( DOR) postponed its IPO on Tuesday, citing poor market conditions. The oil and natural gas driller was seeking to raise $400 million through the sale of 16.7 million shares at $17 to $19 each. -- Written by Debra Borchardt in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Debra Borchardt.
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