The IPO Buzz: Countdown for Lyft

By Jan Paschal:

Wall Street is in countdown mode for Lyft’s IPO, set for pricing Thursday night and a trading debut on NASDAQ on Friday morning.  The intense interest in Lyft brings to mind the excitement in the days leading up to Alibaba’s IPO in September 2014 – and that’s good for the IPO market.

About 400 investors packed the penthouse of the St. Regis Hotel last week for Lyft’s IPO roadshow in New York, according to CNBC and others in the financial press. And what was the telltale sign of those who managed to squeeze into the room? Many left the meeting with a copy of Lyft’s pale pink prospectus peeking out of their high-end bags – if not with the answers to their questions about when the company is expected to become profitable.

But Lyft wasn’t the only name in the Street’s playbook last week.  Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft’s giant ride-share rival, has decided to list its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, in what could be one of the five biggest IPOs in the Big Board’s history, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Uber is likely to file its public S-1 document (the IPO prospectus) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in April, according to Bloomberg.

So  when the time comes, Uber will probably push one of these names off the list of the NYSE’s five biggest IPOs: Alibaba (BABA), $21.8 billion, in September 2014; Visa (V), $17.9 billion, in March 2008; General Motors (GM),  $15.8 billion, in November 2010; AT&T Wireless (AWE), $10.6 billion in April 2000, and Kraft Foods (KFT), $8.7 billion, in June 2001. (The list is from IPOScoop’s data and SEC records.)

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Meanwhile, Pinterest (PINS proposed) slipped its public S-1 (IPO prospectus) through the SEC’s filing window late Friday afternoon.  That filing was in keeping with the relatively low profile favored by Pinterest, a Silicon Valley company whose digital “pin board” is beloved by brides, fashionistas and fans of home décor and renovation.

Pinterest’s SEC filing confirmed what many have been hoping for – a unicorn spring for IPOs. (A unicorn is a private company with a valuation of $1 billion or more.) With Pinterest in the IPO pipeline and Uber edging closer to it, can other unicorns’ IPO filings (Airbnb, Slack, Postmates et al) be not far behind?

In Love with LEVI

There’s no scent, of course, quite like the sweet smell of success. The IPO of Levi Strauss & Co. (LEVI) on the NYSE last week gave investors another sign that this spring could be a good one for unicorns’ initial public offerings.  Levi Strauss, which traces its beginnings back to the California Gold Rush, had a pre-IPO market valuation of about $5.78 billion.

The iconic blue jeans maker’s stock was priced at $17, or $1 above the high end of its $14-$16 range, on Wednesday night, March 20th, and closed its first day of trading on Thursday, March 21st, at $22.41. Thursday, incidentally, was the first full day of spring. On Friday, LEVI closed at $22.12, up 30.12 percent from its IPO price.

This week, the IPO Calendar has four names on it. But only two – Lyft and Precision BioSciences – are IPOs.  Of the remaining two deals, one is a unit offering by 8i Enterprises Acquisition Corp., a blank check company based in Singapore, and the other is a secondary offering by Genfit S.A., a French biopharma company whose stock already trades on the Euronext Paris.

3-2-1, Lyft-Off!

Lyft Inc.  (LYFT proposed) plans to offer 30.77 million shares at $62 to $68 each in its IPO.

The deal is scheduled for pricing Thursday night, March 28th. The stock is set to start trading on Friday morning, March 29th, on NASDAQ.

Bankers expect to raise about $2.0 billion in the IPO, based on pricing at the midpoint of its range.

Lyft, the No. 2 U.S. ride-sharing company, is based in San Francisco. The company earns most of its revenue from matching drivers with riders. For 2018, Lyft reported about $2.16 billion in revenue and a loss of $911.3 million, the prospectus says.

And yes, to the genius who came up with the company’s name: Financial headline writers everywhere thank you for the opportunity to have fun with all those rocket-launch puns.

Editing Genes, Fighting Cancer

Precision BioSciences  (DTIL proposed), a  genome editing company based in Durham, N.C., plans to offer 7.9 million shares at $15 to $17 each.

The IPO is scheduled for pricing on Wednesday night, March 27th, to trade Thursday morning, March 28th, on NASDAQ.

Precision BioSciences is using its proprietary genome editing platform, ARCUS, to develop cancer immunotherapy targeting leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The company is also working on genome editing projects to produce healthy foods, including canola, and plant-based proteins.

A Blank Check for Asia

8i Enterprises Acquisition Corp. (JFKKU proposed), based in Singapore, is a blank check company that intends to focus on acquiring companies that run businesses in Asia.

This is a unit offering of 5 million units at $10 each on NASDAQ. The deal is set for pricing Tuesday night, March 26th, to start trading on NASDAQ on Wednesday morning, March 27th.

Drugs for Liver Diseases

Genfit S.A. (GNFT proposed), based in Loos, France, is a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing drugs to treat metabolic and liver-related diseases.

Genfit plans to offer 5 million shares at $26.33 each for pricing Tuesday night, March 26th, and trading Wednesday morning, March 27th, on NASDAQ.  This is a public offering, not an IPO. Genfit’s stock already trades on Euronext Paris under the symbol “GNFT.”

(For more information about these companies, check the company profiles on the IPOScoop website.)

Looking at April

For the week beginning on April 1st, the IPO Calendar has just one name on it – Ruhnn Holding Ltd. (RUHN proposed), which is China’s largest facilitator of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders).  But more companies could slide into the IPO pipeline when the SEC’s filing window opens again for business on Monday morning.

Stay tuned.

Disclosure: Neither the author nor anyone else on the staff has a position in any stocks mentioned, nor do we trade or invest in IPOs. The author and staff do not issue advice, recommendations or opinion.