In downtown Manhattan, the bankers are getting bored. So far in July, there have been only three small IPOs completed, after the markets welcomed nine new issues in June, 14 in May and 22 in April. Though the spigot has slowed to a trickle, these bored bankers will soon be busy. Five new issues are expected to be priced this week, led by:
Palo Alto Networks, which provides computer network security software
Kayak Software, a travel search-engine operator
Fender Musical Instruments, known for its eponymous guitars
Five Below, a discount retailer
Durata Therapeutics, a research-stage biotech firm
1. Splunk (Nasdaq: SPLK)
Peak price: $37.57
Current Price: $28.40
This had been a hotly-anticipated IPO -- and for good reason. Splunk is a play on "big data," an emerging trend that has companies focusing on the best ways to analyze the massive amounts of information that flow out of networks every day. Splunk has emerged as the largest standalone player in the space, boosting sales from $18 million in 2008 to a projected $175 million in 2012.
It's not a cheap stock, trading for more than 10 times sales, and meaningful profits are likely a few years out. Yet, with the tough market erasing more than $600 million in market value since the end of May, this recent IPO is worth a fresh look for investors seeking companies with potentially very robust growth.
2. Yelp (Nasdaq: YELP)
Peak price: $32
Current price: $21
This merchant rating service now tracks more than 600,000 locations with a reported 25 million cumulative reviews. Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO), Local.com (Nasdaq: LCOM) and others have tried to make a big dent in this market, but Yelp has emerged as the leader. Just as the case with eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) many years ago, growth has been viral as a greater number of consumers attracts the presence of more merchants, which in turn makes it an even broader platform for consumers.
In the quarters ahead, Yelp aims to deepen its presence among smart phone users and plans to roll out its service internationally. That's expected to keep sales growing at a 40% to 50% annual pace, perhaps reaching $250 million by 2014. But investors shouldn't expect to see meaningful profits until at least 2014, which may keep shares from moving past that $32 peak for the next few years.
3. Brightcove (Nasdaq: BCOV)
Peak price: $25.50
Current price: $14.25
This company, which helps build and operate video delivery websites, recently made a splash by announcing it was giving away free tools to help companies make video-serving apps for smart phones. One key beneficiary: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), which would love to see an eco-system develop around its anticipated Apple TV launch.
There's no question the worlds of TV and Internet video are rapidly colliding. Brightcove aims to enable its 4,300 clients to deliver video in a range of formats. Right now, the company generates roughly $20 million revenue per quarter with roughly 65% gross margins. Still, as is the case with many new IPOs, it might be a few years before Brightcove generates net profits. As such, investors should temper their expectations for near-term gains.
4. Tumi Holdings (Nasdaq: TUMI)
Peak price: $29
Current price: $16
This luxury goods retailer was a hot IPO, in part because Wall Street bankers and brokers are often big fans of the brand's luggage and other travel items. Tumi operates about 100 stores, with plans to open 10 annually, especially in overseas markets with robust luxury goods demand. Tumi is expected to earn close to 70 cents a share this year, and earnings per share could exceed $1 once the global economy starts to rebound.
5. Guidewire Software (Nasdaq: GWRE)
Peak price: $38
Current price: $25
The insurance industry is quite mature, but this software provider is uniquely positioned to outgrow the market. Guidewire offers software that helps insurers manage the billing and claims process -- an especially handy service for smaller insurance agencies that lack the funds to develop cutting-edge software that firms such as Allstate (Nasdaq: ALL) and State Farm use.
Sales shot up from $87 million in fiscal (July) 2009 to a projected $205 million in the fiscal year that ends in July. Analysts at Citigroup forsee strong growth ahead, with sales hitting $285 million by fiscal 2014.
Risks to Consider: As these companies haven't been public very long, they have yet to establish a long-term shareholder base. This leaves them vulnerable to heavy selling if the market slumps badly and investors cling to the stocks they've known a long time.
Action to Take --> While many investors like to focus on brand new stocks, it's the IPOs that are three to six months old that often offer better value as there is less hype around them.