TheDeal: Markets Open Doors to PE-Backed Homebuilder IPOs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Private equity firms are taking advantage of the comeback in the real estate market to take portfolio companies in sectors such as homebuilding and construction supplies public.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of new single-family homes in April were at 454,000, up 2.3% from the previous month and up 29% from April 2012.

Also, as of June, McGraw-Hill Construction forecasts that U.S. single-family housing starts will increase to 1.1 million by 2015.

Besides the upward trend in home sales, another factor encouraging housing sector companies to go public is the stability in the initial public offering market. "People see that the market has been on an upswing and they want to take advantage of that," a source who advises on IPOs said.

So far this year, 102 IPOs have been filed in the U.S., up 39.7% from the same period in 2012, according to data from Renaissance Capital. Also, 79 IPOs have priced, up 14.5% from the same period in 2012.

The cyclicality of the real estate market also forces sellers to act quickly. "Everybody is aware that the residential and nonresidential construction markets are cyclical. They are in an upswing now and the PE backers want to get their deals to market before the market turns again," the source added.

In hopes of taking advantage of the open IPO window, on June 14 alone two private equity-backed companies related to the real estate industry announced intentions to go public. Gores Group-backed Stock Building Supply Holdings, which provides building materials and construction services to homebuilders and contractors, filed for a $175 million initial public offering, with Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Citigroup as joint bookrunners on the deal.

Gores acquired a 51% stake in Raleigh, N.C.-based Stock in May 2009 and then acquired the remainder of the company in November 2011 for an undisclosed amount.

Also, homebuilder New Home filed for a $172.5 million IPO. The Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based company is backed by Toronto-based and real estate-focused private equity firm Tricon Capital Group, which invested $10 million in New Home in January 2011.

Meanwhile, HD Supply Holdings, which is backed by Bain Capital, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Carlyle Group, is expected to go public on June 26. The company plans to sell 53.19 million shares in its initial public offering at between $22 and $25, the company said June 13 in a prospectus. At the midpoint of $23.50, the company could raise as much as $1.25 billion.

Atlanta-based HD Supply supplies contractors, government entities, maintenance professionals and homebuilders with a range of industrial and construction supplies.

The private equity firms acquired the company in 2007 when it spun out of retailer Home Depot Inc. in a deal valued at $8.5 billion.

Already gone public is homebuilder Taylor Morrison Home ( TMHC), which raised $629 million in May by offering 28.6 million shares at $22, at the high end of the expected $20 to $22 range. On Monday, the company's shares were up 3% at $26.01 in midday trading.

The company, which is backed by Oaktree Capital and TPG Capital, initially intended to raise just $250 million, but later upsized to $500 million, which it was able to surpass in the IPO.

Oaktree and TPG did not sell shares in the offering, retaining a 37.4% stake each.

The company quickly garnered an initial "overweight" rating from equity analysts at JPMorgan, who have a price target of $31 for the company's shares.

More of these companies could go public. One of them is Hellman & Friedman-backed Associated Materials, a manufacturer and distributor of exterior residential building products, according to a Reuters report. Calls to the firm for confirmation were not returned.

"The trend is likely to continue as long as the market remains stable and there is continued improvement in residential and nonresidential construction data. When those things turn, the market for these kind of offerings could disappear relatively quickly," the source said.

-- Written by Taina Rosa in New York.

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