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2012 IPOs: High Expectations, No Assurances


By tradition, no IPOs are scheduled in the first two weeks of January, so this week marks the kickoff of the IPO year. Given the fact that technology is one of the few truly bright spots in the U.S. economy, and the expectation that Facebook will file, the expectations are extraordinarily high for 2012.

Here’s a fast guide to some of the solid reporting on the topic.

The volatility in the stock market is making it more difficult for IPOs. SecondMarket’s Barry Silbert recently pointed out in a VentureBeat interview that  “often there are factors like the credit crisis or the situation in Europe affecting the markets. It’s the reason entrepreneurs like myself never want to go public.”

An article in The Wall Street Journal suggests that IPOs will come in waves  as companies and investment bankers try to seize on market momentum to ensure strong starts.

“The dollar volume of IPOs in registration currently stands at $14.8 billion, down from $15 billion at the beginning of last year, and $17 billion at the start of 2010, according to Dealogic. There are 145 companies waiting to debut, compared to 122 at this time last year,” says the story.

 Renaissance Capital estimates a somewhat higher count: 200 companies that have filed.

Tech companies including Yelp, Twitter and Kayak, are receiving some of the most intense attention.

Yelp filed its IPO plans late last year. Kayak has filed and amended a number of times, according to reports.

A handful of others are said to be possible or likely, including Tumblr, Dropbox, SunGard, LivingSocial, Gogo Inc. and Glam Media. This 24/7 Wall Street story lists 17 possible IPOs, most of them in the tech sector.

Then, of course, there’s Menlo Park-based Facebook. All Things Digital, citing anonymous sources, said the company would go public in May.

Just because there is a big backlog of IPOs doesn’t mean we’ll see all of them, or even most of them. Experts are divided on how much IPO activity we’ll actually see.

A story on CNN/Money asks and answers the question:

“But can Facebook revive a stalled IPO market?”

The short answer is no. “Facebook’s IPO is completely its own entity,” the story quotes Lise Buyer, principal of IPO consulting firm Class V Group.

PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report covered by Gigaom on the IPO market. The furthest it went was saying that 2012 was likely to be better than 2011 – which was better than 2010, but still not stellar.

“The surge in activity and relative strength in the number and diversification of industries in the IPO pipeline are early signs of a healthier IPO market in 2012,” PwC said in the report.

If you’re an employee at a company with IPO plans, you might be interested in one of our other recent posts: Q&A: Over What Time Period Should I Sell My LinkedIn Shares

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About the author(s)

Journalist Elizabeth MacBride is Wealthfront's editor. Her work has appeared in Crain's New York, Advertising Age, the Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor, among other publications. View all posts by Elizabeth MacBride