U.S. IPOs to Maintain Pace Over Remainder of Year

Initial public offerings (IPOs) on U.S. exchanges finished the first half of the year with a flurry of activity. In fact, the 33 offerings that priced in June represent the highest number of deals since July of last year. Yet, despite this strong finish, the number of U.S. IPOs and proceeds raised through six months are down significantly when compared to 2014.*

According to the 2015 BDO IPO Halftime Report, a survey of capital markets executives at leading investment banks, IPO activity on U.S. exchanges during the second half of the year should mirror the first six months of 2015. A majority (54%) of bankers predict IPO activity will remain at the same level as the first half of the year. Just over a quarter (26%) anticipate the pace of U.S. IPO activity will increase in the second half of 2015, while one-fifth (20%) forecast a decrease in offering activity. Overall, capital market executives are predicting virtually no net change (under 1%) in the number of U.S. IPOs during the second half of the year.

Bankers anticipate these offerings will average just $174 million in size for the remainder of 2015, approximately the same as the first half of the year. This projects to less than $36 billion in total IPO proceeds on U.S. exchanges in 2015, the lowest level of proceeds since 2009 when the market was still reeling from the financial crisis.

“It was almost inevitable that the 2015 U.S. IPO market was going to experience a slowing of growth given the impressive increases achieved in 2013 and 2014, however the drop-off in offerings this year has been significant. While there are always multiple contributing factors for such a dramatic change, the capital markets community clearly believes the wide availability of private financing at favorable valuations is playing the leading role,” said Brian Eccleston, a partner in the Capital Markets Practice at BDO USA. “If this access to private funding continues, bankers believe it will lead to fewer IPOs moving forward. Certainly, this is a trend that bears watching.”

When compared to 2014, when 275 IPOs generated more than $85 billion in proceeds*, the number and size of U.S. IPOs have dropped considerably this year. A majority (56%) of capital markets executives believe the widespread availability of private funding at attractive valuations is the main factor in the dramatic drop in the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) on U.S. exchanges in 2015 when compared to 2014. A cooling stock market (22%), fewer offerings from private equity firms (14%) and the collapse of oil prices (8%) are cited as the main factor by much smaller proportions of the bankers.

When asked about the impact of companies putting off their IPOs due to the availability of late-stage financing in the private sector, a majority (61%) of the bankers feel it will lead to fewer offerings going forward, while more than a quarter (29%) predict it will result in better IPOs in the future. Two-thirds (66%) of the capital markets executives believe the recent trend of mutual fund companies investing in popular, private technology businesses is a further disincentive to companies considering an IPO.
In addition to the drop in the number of IPOs, the size of the average offering – even absent last year’s massive Alibaba offering – has decreased significantly in 2015. A large proportion of the capital markets community (41%) attribute the smaller average deal size to fewer large deals coming from private equity firms who have already exited many of their more mature businesses. Other factors cited by the bankers for the smaller sized offerings are increased investor risk tolerance for smaller offering businesses (32%) and valuation pressures forcing offering businesses to cut prices (21%). Only 6 percent attribute the decreased size to the JOBS Act encouraging smaller businesses to go public. Moving forward, capital markets executives anticipate that the size of the average IPO in the second half of the year will be $174 million, approximately the same as the first half.

*Renaissance Capital is the source of all historical data related to number and size of U.S. IPOs

This article originally appeared in BDO USA, LLP’s Quarterly Client Newsletter (Summer 2015). Copyright © 2015 BDO USA, LLP. All rights reserved. www.bdo.com