About the only way that the first quarter of 2017 could have been worse for initial public offerings (IPOs) than the first quarter of 2016 is if not a single new company succeeded in reaching the public markets. That’s how bad the first quarter of 2016 was, with just eight deals and a capital raise of less than $700 million.
The first quarter of 2017 saw 25 IPOs raise a total of $9.9 billion. Of the 25 deals, 12 involved private equity (PE) backed companies and eight were venture capital (VC) backed firms. The PE firms raised $5.1 billion and the VC firms raised $4.1 billion. In 2016, PE firms had no IPOs in the first quarter and VCs backed seven but raised just $566 million.
One big difference was the $3.4 billion IPO of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP), the largest for a U.S.-based tech company since Facebook’s 2012 IPO. All eight of last year’s first-quarter IPOs were health care companies; this year just four of 25 were health care firms.
Energy companies had the most IPOs (five), but the lowest average IPO return (−12.3%). The energy IPOs suffered from falling first-quarter crude oil prices. Hydraulic fracking supplier Keane Group Inc. (NYSE: FRAC) got a first-day pop of nearly 14%, but the return since the IPO has been −22%. Jagged Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE: JAG) suffered a negative pop on its first day of trading and would up down 15% as of Wednesday.
According to IPO ETF manager Renaissance Capital, the five best-performing IPOs of the first quarter, based on returns to date, are the following:
- AnaptysBio Inc. (NASDAQ: ANAB): up 85.9% since January 25 IPO
- Jounce Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: JNCE): up 46.6% since January 26 IPO
- JELD-WEN Holding Inc. (NYSE: JELD): up 42.6% since January 26 IPO
- MuleSoft Inc. (NYSE: MULE): up 40% since March 16 IPO
- Snap: up 32.6% since March 1 IPO
The five worst-performing first-quarter IPOs are:
- Valeritas Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: VLRX): down 39.9%
- ObsEva S.A. (NASDAQ: OBSV): down 29.4%
- Ramaco Resources Inc. (NYSE: METC): down 23.9%
- Keane Group: down 22%
- Jagged Peak: down 15%
Here’s Renaissance Capital’s outlook for the second quarter of this year:
We expect heightened IPO activity heading into the second quarter. Markets are near all-time highs, volatility is low, and recent news and initial filings all point to higher issuance from a diverse set of companies. The long-dormant technology sector in particular showed signs of strength at quarter-end, and high-growth tech companies Okta and Yext are already set to price in early April. On the other hand, health care will likely continue to slow as the biotech boom fades. The outlook for energy IPOs depends on oil prices, but other private equity-backed companies are moving forward, such as retailer Floor & Décor and industrial equipment maker Gardner Denver. The second quarter will likely see its share of large offerings, starting with Brazilian airline Azul and US trucking company Schneider National. The first quarter has historically accounted for about 20% of annual IPO activity, which implies about 20 more  IPOs than the 105 in 2016. However, we believe this year’s pace will accelerate more than usual in the second and third quarters, setting the stage to exceed 150 deals in 2017 and $30 to $40 billion in capital raised.
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