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IPO Market Outlook for Second Half of 2016

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We’ve officially hit July. By now, most of us have forgotten our New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, and instead we spend our time inside of our air conditioned homes eating basically whatever we want to. Well, at least that what’s what I have been doing.

However, I’m here today to introduce a new concept: the second half of the year resolution. It’s a simple concept. We take this time to reinvigorate ourselves and have a great second half of 2016.

I was inspired to think of this idea after taking a look at the performance of IPOs in the first half of the year. So far we’ve seen just over 40 IPOs priced in the United States, and although total global IPO activity in 2Q16 nearly doubled that of 1Q16, it was still down 56% year-over-year.

I’m going to cut the IPO market some slack here. Just like I told myself I was going to go outside and run more this year, I’m sure the global markets would have really hoped for solid IPO activity in 2016. But things happen. It gets hot outside, I get lazy, and sometimes there’s global economic and political uncertainty for the better part of six months.

To start the year, the sluggish Chinese economy put a drain on trading throughout the world, and it was quickly followed by confusion about the timetable for U.S. interest rate hikes. Tack on the chaos that was the Brexit, and it makes sense that the IPO market would be slumping this year.

Now that we’re at this point, we’ll look back at exactly what has happened in the IPO market this year, and more importantly, we’ll see what lies ahead for the rest of 2016.

First Half Trends

Renaissance Capital, a manager of IPO-tracking ETFS, recently published a report that detailed trends and recapped global IPO activity so far this year. This report, along with other market data, paints an interesting picture of IPOs in 2016.

As per usual, the highest returns on IPOs this year have been from the highly-manipulated Chinese A-share market where the government intentionally undervalues companies in order to post higher returns.

Excluding these companies, the healthcare and technology industries had the highest returns, coming in at 37% and 31%, respectively, in the second quarter. Even though the Brexit wiped out some gains right at the end of Q2, IPO returns were still up nearly 8% on the quarter.

Overall, returns have been reasonable this year. The real issue that has been apparent is actual IPO activity. As I mentioned earlier, just about 40 IPOs have been priced in the U.S. this year, which is down 50% from last year. In 1Q16, total IPO activity was worth just $9.6 billion, down from $36.1 billion from 1Q15. Activity picked back up again in 2Q16, but the pace is still well behind that of 2015.

Another trend this year has been seen in the types of companies going public. So far, the IPO market has seen spin-offs of larger companies and privatizations of state-owned entities, especially in Europe, dominate the landscape.

Outlook for 2H16

Heading into the second half of the year, the main obstacle in the way of an active IPO market will be the continued volatility caused by the Brexit. In short, companies tend to want to go public only in the surest of market environments, and the Brexit provides basically the opposite of that, especially in Europe.

Nevertheless, IPO activity should continue to pick up, at least marginally, especially in the United States. Some companies might be reassured by the recent success of Twilio (TWLO - Free Report) , which quickly jumped from its IPO price of $15 per share to over $30 per share. Twilio was the first tech “unicorn” to IPO in 2016.

As of right now, we do know that at least one other company in the broad technology sphere is set to debut. LINE Corp., a Japanese messaging app maker, will debut via a dual listing in Tokyo and New York on July 14. LINE is expected to raise over $1 billion during its IPO, and you can check out our guide on everything investors need to know about LINE before its first day of trading next week.

Other than LINE, the big-money IPOs for the remainder of the year still have some uncertainty around them. The upcoming Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) offering will most likely continue the trend of manipulated Chinese stocks leading the IPO pack, but other than that it’s unclear exactly what we’ll see.

Hotel Lotte, the South Korean hotel chain owned by the Lotte Group, was planning for a $5 billion IPO in South Korea, which would be the largest in that country’s history, but it was recently delayed while its parent company is investigated in a bribery scandal.

Spotify has been rumored to be preparing for an IPO this year that could be worth up to $1.3 billion. The music streaming service recently raised $1 billion in financing with the promise that its debtors will receive a discount on shares of the company at its IPO. Other than that news, however, we don’t know much about Spotify’s potential offering.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Jose Cuervo was preparing to raise up to $1 billion during an IPO in the third quarter of 2016, but no further details have emerged yet. Blue Apron, a maker of prepackaged meals, recently hired a former Under Armour executive in an alleged effort to work on its IPO plans.

If these big names do go through with their IPO plans, it will mean a much more interesting second half of the year in the global IPO market. Twilio recently showed the world that IPOs in 2016 can be a big success, and now LINE is up next. IPO activity can hardly get slower than it has been so far this year, and it looks like things are finally starting to get busy again.

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