The collective sigh of relief that greeted global online payments company, Square’s recent debut on the New York Stock Exchange means that technology-dependent “unicorn” IPOs can still arouse interest on Wall Street says Tokyo-based broker Osprey Associates.
After bankrolling a slew of so-called “unicorns” – startup companies with valuations of $1 billion or more – and being disappointed by the likes of Twitter, Groupon, GoPro and others, investors have begun to question wisdom of committing capital to shares in companies that stand little chance of being able to justify lofty valuations with profits and growth.
“It appears that some semblance of sanity is returning to Wall Street,” said James Conroy, chief economist at Osprey Associates. “They’re less willing to buy into the hyperbole and are demanding that underwriters reduce IPO ranges to more realistic levels before parting with cash.”
Square was valued at $4 billion, 33% less than the $6 billion placed on it by Wall Street analysts a year ago. The range for the IPO had been set by the Square and the banks underwriting the deal at $11-$13 but skeptical investors forced the debut price down to $9.
“What was galling was that Square actually raised money from private investors last year at $15.46 a share. Those investors will not be feeling pleased,” said Conroy. Despite the pricing, Square’s stock closed up 45% on its first day at an impressive $13.07.
Osprey Associates has reaffirmed its positivity towards technology and social media IPOs but continues to urge investors to look beyond hyperbole and fanfare to focus on core business models before committing capital.
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