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Is Beyond Meat's Rapid Run a Sign of an IPO-Driven Bubble?

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After pricing its IPO at a modest $19 to $21 per share, Beyond Meat (BYND) could be set to touch over $100 soon. That might be a problem for investors worried about a pullback.

The Los Angeles-based company surged over 7% on Thursday, touching a valuation near $6 billion that makes it nearly three times as valuable as fellow burger staple Shake Shack (SHAK) , a company that has reported consecutive profitable quarters.

While this is not overly concerning on the face, the disparity in profits for each burger vendor is marked. In a familiar refrain for 2019 IPOs, Beyond Meat's IPO filings not the company has yet to make a profit and losses have actually widened in recent years.

"We have generated losses since inception," an S-1 filing states. "Net loss in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was $25.1 million, $30.4 million and $29.9 million, respectively, as we invested in innovation and growth of our business."

According to a Bernstein analysis , this type of dynamic is present in 80% of IPO filings presented in 2019, reaching a fever pitch not seen since the late 90's.

"The IPO calendar this year reminds me quite a bit of 1999 where you've got a lot of companies coming public. Many of them have less than stellar operating results but, but maybe great stories in the long-term, we just don't know," Michael Cuggino, President of the Permanent Portfolio Family of Fund told TheStreet. "Certainly there's some companies, Lyft (LYFT) and Uber (UBER) being two of them, in a disruptive industry that's growing but really questionable as to the operating metrics in the long term."

He added that the stock surge for the companies cited indicate that people simply believe there will continue to be more buyers at higher levels amid the momentum, rather than any analysis of the underlying company.

"It looks like people are just assuming some fool will buy in above them," he said. "What happens when there are no fools left?"

Cuggino explained that public markets are generally less amenable to consistent losses than private markets, where many of these companies have subsisted for years. Amazon (AMZN) and Tesla (TSLA) are notable historical exceptions to that rule, but certainly not every company has a Jeff Bezos or an Elon Musk atop their corporate totem poles.

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He added that it's possible that these companies, like Pinterest (PINS) or the sizzling Beyond Meat, do in fact achieve their goals of seriously shifting the landscape of their respective industries. However, it is extremely difficult to justify their stock moves at present.

"We don't know how these business plans are going to pan out in the long term at the moment," Cuggino concluded. "We generally don't invest in companies where we can't see a path to profitability. And I think there's generally in some of these companies, a much more risky path to profitability, or at least an uncertain one that makes it as an investment for a long term investor like us, a little bit difficult to swallow."

Whether you're vegan or not, Beyond Meat's valuation is certainly hard to swallow at this point and its making the 2019 IPO picture somewhat unpalatable overall.

Taste Test: Our Reporters Try the Beyond Meat Burger, Talk Business Model

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