New York: Initial public offerings dropped last quarter to the second-lowest level since the financial crisis, as signs of a global economic slowdown threaten to extend the IPO market’s slump into 2013.
Initial share sales raised about $21.3 billion (Dh78 billion) worldwide in the three months through September, 48 per cent less than the previous quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While Japan Airlines completed 2012’s biggest IPO since Facebook, companies from guitar maker Fender Musical Instruments to Hardee’s owner CKE shelved their offerings after failing to procure the price they wanted from investors.
The US stock market’s rally to a more than four-year high has provided only limited momentum for share sales as slowing growth in China and the European debt crisis help spur the International Monetary Fund to lower its forecasts for the global economy. With Facebook having lost about half its value since pricing its initial offering at 107 times earnings, potential IPO investors are now demanding cheaper valuations in the face of economic uncertainty, according to Bank of America’s Frank Maturo, vice-chairman of equity capital markets.
“One of the biggest reasons companies aren’t moving forward is that the discounts buyers are demanding are high,” Maturo said in a briefing last week in New York. “Otherwise, if discounts were at traditional levels, it would be wide open.”
Maturo said that while investors in the past typically expected IPOs to be priced 10 per cent to 15 per cent more cheaply than comparable publicly traded stocks, they’re now demanding discounts that sometimes exceed 20 per cent.
The $21.3 billion raised through IPOs globally in the July-to-September period was the second-lowest quarterly amount since the American economy ended its longest recession since the Great Depression in June 2009. Only the $16.4 billion raised in the first quarter of this year was lower. Initial share sales in the US last quarter plunged 84 per cent to $3.5 billion from $22.7 billion in the previous three months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
While some companies such as teen retailer Five Below and real-estate website operator Trulia completed sales last quarter as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed to its highest level since December 2007 and stock market volatility reached a five-year low, Fender, CKE, LegalZoom.com and Momentive Performance Materials Holdings all pulled their IPOs.
Fender announced on July 19 it wouldn’t go ahead with its IPO, saying it couldn’t achieve an “appropriate valuation” because of market conditions. CKE postponed its IPO in August, and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Puzder said in a September 21 interview that investors were deterred by the company’s rising costs and inability to charge higher prices for its food.
Facebook extended its post-IPO drop to as much as 53 per cent last quarter after pricing its shares more expensively relative to earnings than 99 per cent of companies in the S&P 500, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
As long as the global economic recovery remains uncertain, some investors will be reluctant to pay higher valuations for newly listed companies, according to Pete Sorrentino of Huntington Asset Advisors.
On September 21, the World Trade Organisation lowered its forecast for commerce growth, citing the extended European debt crisis, which has taken the region’s economy to the brink of recession. The day before, the International Monetary Fund said it would reduce its forecasts for economic growth on October 9, when the organisation is scheduled to release its next update.
“If the broader market finally wakes up and sees that valuations don’t make sense given where we are in the economic cycle, then the switch gets flipped again and everything goes dormant,” Cincinnati-based Sorrentino, who helps oversee $14.7 billion in assets, said in a telephone interview.
The risk of a further deterioration in the global economy, along with factors such as the US presidential election in November, mean that opportunities to raise capital before year-end may be fleeting, according to Phil Drury, co-head of Americas equity capital markets at Citigroup.
“There are a number of variables that could cause unforeseen shocks to the equity markets,” Drury said in a phone interview. “We’re advising our issuers that they need to be ready to go forward and they need to be nimble.”
In western Europe, companies raised a total of $385 million last quarter, the lowest amount since the first quarter of 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Talanx AG, Germany’s third-biggest insurer, cancelled plans for a €700 million (Dh3,312. million) IPO last month citing an “excessive discount” offered by potential investors. It revived the sale days later after slashing the size by 29 per cent to €500 million.
Other companies in the region may also pursue sales this quarter after the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rebounded as much as 18 per cent from a six-month low. Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the UK’s largest state-owned lender, aims to complete an IPO of its insurance unit Direct Line this month, it said in a statement last week. The lender may raise as much as £975 million (Dh5,785 million), valuing it at £2.7 billion, according to the statement.
“Europe’s equity capital markets have been quite dry so far this year. But from recent discussions with investors, they now appear to be willing to engage when it’s the right asset at the right price,” said Alasdair Warren, head of Europe equity capital markets at Goldman Sachs Group.
IPOs in the Asia-Pacific region are on pace for the worst year since 2008, as China, the world’s second-biggest economy, slows. Deals in Hong Kong, the world’s largest IPO market in 2010, have raised $3 billion this year, the lowest for any January-to-September period since 2003. In China, companies have sold $14.9 billion of shares, the lowest since 2009.
For the three months through September, companies in Asia raised $16.7 billion, compared with $13.6 billion in the same period a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Japan Airlines, which completed an $8.4 billion IPO last month, accounted for half of the region’s quarterly volume. Companies have raised $4.4 billion in China since July 1, the lowest third-quarter tally since 2008, the data show.
In Asian markets such as Hong Kong, a string of accounting missteps involving mainland Chinese companies that were listed in recent years has sapped IPO demand. Meanwhile, Chinese central banker Zhou Xiaochuan warned in a September 19 newspaper article that downward pressure on the country’s economy is still “relatively large.”
“Investors are cautious about Chinese IPOs as China’s economy slows and some scandals involving private-sector firms have affected their confidence,” said Ronald Wan, a Hong Kong- based managing director at China Merchants Securities, which oversees about $1.5 billion. A shrinking pool of state-owned companies that haven’t gone public affected the volume of IPOs in Hong Kong and China, he said.
Morgan Stanley, which led Facebook’s offering, is so far this year’s top underwriter for IPOs globally, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deutsche Bank AG is in second place and JPMorgan Chase & Co is third, the data show.