The sluggish IPO market is on track for one of its worst years since the financial crisis, but a resurgent technology sector, and the largest tech deal since the $25 billion Alibaba offering in September 2014, could help the market rebound from a shaky first half.
Thirty-three initial public offerings raised $6.1 billion in the third quarter, beating the $5.1 billion mark from the same period a year ago, and on par with the 10-year median average of $6.2 billion, according to a September report by Renaissance Capital, an IPO investment adviser and research firm.
The market continues to rebound after volatility triggered by Brexit earlier in the year, with companies that went public in the third quarter boasting an average return of 41% — the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2013 — compared to a negative 4% average loss during that period in 2015. More than nine in ten companies (93.9%) ended the quarter with their stock above their offer prices. Third-quarter deal volume (33 IPOs) also remained relatively consistent with the prior period, but drastically outpaced a dismal first-quarter tally of only eight.
The tech sector provided the market with a much-needed shot in the arm, thanks primarily to the year’s largest IPO by Japanese messaging app LINE. On file for more than two years, the much-anticipated deal raised $1.1 billion, the most since Alibaba’s IPO in 2014.
The second-largest tech deal came from the software company Nutanix, raising $238 million, 42% more than anticipated. Nutanix’s offering was the best-performing of the quarter with a 131% return. With 10 tech companies going public, compared with only one in the prior-year period, the tech sector has raised the most in IPO proceeds in 2016.
On the backs of surging tech companies, the average first-day IPO returns rose to 21% across the board, a multi-year high, while maintaining double-digit returns of 17% after day one. The Renaissance IPO Index traded up 9.4% for the quarter, far outperforming the S&P 500’s gain of 3.3%.
Even with a promising third quarter, analysts believe the shaky start could mark 2016 as the least-active year for the IPO market since the financial crisis. With 30 to 40 new deals projected by year-end, 2016 will still likely trail both 2008 and 2009 in terms of proceeds earned.
Moving forward, the market will have to contend with the upcoming U.S. presidential election, a holiday slowdown, and a possible interest-rate hike, which all present the potential for a rocky fiscal climate. Several prominent companies were already pulled from the IPO pipeline this year, including TV maker Vizio and AIG spin-off United Guaranty.
But even with looming concerns, 40 new IPOs were filed in the third quarter, more than replacing the 33 IPOs that priced. The quarter ended with 96 public companies on file to go public. Combined, they are expected to raise $24 billion. Eighteen issuers filed in September alone. The market is on track to finish the year with more than 100 pricings.
Analysts also point to dozens of known confidential filers, as well as companies that have been in discussions with banks about potentially filing for an IPO by the end of the year. Companies that might file before year-end, like the music-streaming service Spotify, valued at $8.5 billion, could be the catalyst for a much livelier 2017.