One would think a whole bunch of technology companies arriving on public markets would be great news for people tracking initial public offerings. They could find themselves with new investing opportunities that bring in consistent returns for their portfolios. But one financial analyst is not so enthusiastic about the initial public offerings (IPOs) for New Relic, Hortonworks Lending Club, and Workiva this Thursday and Friday.
“I’m worried,” Kathleen Smith, principal at IPO exchange-traded funds (ETF) manager Renaissance Capital, said in an interview with VentureBeat.
Since Thanksgiving, Renaissance’s ETF has been down 4 percent. Meanwhile the stocks of software companies like Red Hat, ServiceNow, Splunk, Tableau, and ZenDesk have all fallen in the past month. The Nasdaq was down again today. Investors continue to sell off oil. All these factors can create difficult conditions for IPOs.
And the bigger implication is that poorly performing IPOs now could worsen things for companies that wish to go public in the next several months. Think of IPO-bound tech companies that compete with this week’s candidates, like AppDynamics Cloudera, and MapR. “If you ask what’s going to happen, it matters a lot,” Smith said.
Even so, the next couple of days ought to provide investors with some interesting new options.
Lending Club, a peer-to-peer marketplace for making loans, has gotten interest from investors. Smith thinks “there’s some belief that Lending Club could be a big, disruptive platform.”
That company has increased the range of its share price ahead of the IPO, which is generally a good indicator of interest among investors. New Relic, an application-analytics software provider, also increased its IPO price.
Which is one reason why John Fitzgibbon, Jr., the man behind research firm IPOScoop.com, is so excited about New Relic and Lending Club. He said business-reporting company Workiva has been well received among investors, too.
“The bottom line is, it looks like technology is back in play, which is music to your ears,” Fitzgibbon told VentureBeat.
Even so, not all the IPOs this week look perfect. Hortonworks, which sells a distribution of Hadoop open-source software for storing and analyzing lots of different kinds of data, has a history of losses. And Rob Bearden, Hortonworks’ chief executive, “was way off in his projections in terms of forecasting,” PrivCo chief executive Sam Hamadeh told VentureBeat. Revenue for the most recent reported quarter came in considerably lower than he had suggested it would. If anything, Hamadeh said, Hortonworks “would be [a] perfect IPO for next year.”
Fitzgibbon was less bearish about Hortonworks, citing Goldman Sachs’ involvement as a lead underwriter.
“When it comes to the IPO market, instead of going out to the racetrack, if you don’t know the horse, bet on the jockey,” he said. A name like Goldman Sachs reflects well on Hortonworks’ chances.
In any case, it’s understandable Hortonworks and the other IPO candidates for this week want to get out onto public markets before it’s too late.
“If the IPO window shuts thereafter, it can create competitive advantage,” Hamadeh said. “We saw that with Zillow, for example.”
The question is how the market will respond to this week’s offerings.
“Should they perform well, you should expect new filings coming in the first week of January for March IPOs,” Hamadeh said.