The IPO Buzz: Lucky Side of the Ledger

This year’s IPO traffic is breaking down into two different markets: Pre-Labor Day and Post-Labor Day.
Investors who bought shares of companies that have gone public since Labor Day wound up on the lucky side of the ledger. The numbers tell the story.
{mosgoogle}The average opening-day gain of the IPOs priced since Labor Day is 18.1 percent. That’s roughly twice the average opening-day gain of 8.9 percent for the IPOs priced during the first eight months of the year.
Here’s how the two different IPO markets of 2006 have taken shape so far.
Pre-Labor Day:
On Sept. 1, 2006, which was the Friday before Labor Day, the Nasdaq Composite Index, the barometer of the IPO market, ended at 2,193.16, DOWN 0.55 percent from its close at 2,205.32 on Dec. 30, 2005.
During those eight months, the new-issues calendar produced 136 IPOs, according to available records. That was an average of about 17 IPOs per month. They had an average opening-day gain of 8.9 percent.
On Sept. 1, 2006, the pre-Labor Day Scorecard (excluding unit offerings) looked like this:
  • IPOs priced: 105
  • Up: 50
  • Down: 53
  • Unchanged: 2
  • Average gain: 4.32 percent
  • Nasdaq Composite Index: Down 0.55 percent
Post-Labor Day:
On Dec. 9, 2006, the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 2,437.36, UP 11.1 percent from Sept. 1, 2006.
During those three months and a week, the new-issues calendar produced 76 IPOs. That was an average of about 25 IPOs per month. They had an average opening-day gain of 18.1 percent.
On Dec. 9, 2006, the post-Labor Day Scorecard (excluding unit offerings) looked like this:
  • IPOs priced: 71
  • Up: 57
  • Down: 14
  • Average gain: 29.3 percent
  • Nasdaq Composite Index: Up 11.1 percent
That set the stage for last Friday’s explosive IPO results.
Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS), the maker of kids’ shoes with wheels embedded in the heels, was the outstanding deal that caught the financial media’s attention. The IPO was priced at $21 per share and hit an intraday high of $38.75 — UP 84.5 percent from its initial offering price– before closing at $32.60. That was still up 55.2 percent from its offering price.
The Heelys deal had been the “pick of the week” by many. Some were projecting an opening-day premium of $5 per share above its offering price. That proved to be conservative.
The demand was far greater than expected.
It enabled bankers to price 6.43 million shares at $21 each, well above the original filing range of 6.25 million shares at $16 to $18 each. The extra stock came from selling shareholders. They sold 3.3 million shares, up from an originally planned 3.13 million shares.
Allegiant Travel (Nasdaq: ALGT), a feeder airline, was Friday’s other hot IPO. It popped for an opening-day gain of 39.4 percent.
Once again, big demand allowed bankers to price 5 million shares at $18 each, above its filing range of $15 to $17 per share. The IPO opened at a premium of $6 per share  above its offering price and closed at $25.10 per share.
No Overnight Success
Worth noting: Last Friday’s IPO eruption just didn’t happen overnight.
It’s been building for awhile.
First, there’s the strength of the stock market, specifically the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 11.1 percent gain since Labor Day. Second, there’s the sizzling IPO market, with an average gain of nearly 30 percent over the past 13 weeks. Those two factors opened the door for Wall Street’s bankers to price 20 IPOs for this week, which starts on Monday, Dec. 11.
The last time more IPOs were priced in a single week was two years ago during the week of Dec. 13, 2004. In that week, bankers got 21 deals out the door.
By the way, a couple of IPOs on this week’s calendar are catching a lot of buzz.
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