Two years ago, the technology IPO market could not stop producing new deals for enthusiastic investors. However, so far this year, only three tech companies have brought a public offering to the US market. The latest one, high-speed communications solution provider Acacia Communications, opened on May 13th to great fanfare and brought us a joyful return of +34.78%. Nevertheless, this success increases our nostalgia and frustration level when looking at today’s Unicorn list, which now sits at 166 companies and a total valuation of $618bn.
Oil and Gas companies are also missing in action, being more preoccupied now with just surviving rather than raising fresh capital.
The banking sector, including FinTech, has not come to the rescue either. The traditional banking companies don’t seem to trigger any excitement, as shown by Midland States Bancorp’s (MSBI) flat opening on the Nasdaq on May 24th. As far as FinTech companies are concerned, the recent troubles with peer-to-peer lender Lending Club (LC), where its founder and CEO resigned among fraud allegations, will not help the sector endear itself to public investors.
The unlikely winners in this general IPO drought are the good old “brick-and-mortar” companies.
Suddenly, landscaping stuff is trendy: SiteOne Landscape Supply (SITE) scored one of our highest opening pops this month, and consequently brought us a hefty profit of +22.62%. Even a food-distribution company like US Foods (USFD) looks sexy. This “old-school” company, one that started all the way back in the 19th century, gave us a decent +7.61% return.
Wallboards anyone? Two years ago GMS (GMS) would have had a hard time selling its success story as a leader in distribution of construction products. Today, we welcome this IPO to the fold along with the profit of +7.14% we made on this deal.
The same trend seems to apply in Europe, where Technogym (TECH.MI), an Italian manufacturer of fitness equipment, Philips Lighting (LIGHT), a 125 years old Dutch producer of light bulbs, and Maisons du Monde (MDM.FP), a French furniture retailer successfully made their debuts in Milan, Amsterdam and Paris. The first and the last made us a return of +11.38% and +6.29% respectively.
It appears obvious that in times of higher volatility, markets rediscover companies that simply make things, perhaps being perceived as being more predictable than knowledge-intensive industries which reward risk but also offer wilder rides.
The Year-to-Date total return of the Creative IPO Fund is now +15.69%.
June is traditionally a busy month. Last year we participated in 11 deals, and the 2016 lineup of IPOs looks just as promising with a large cohort of small Japanese deals that we find ourselves very fond of.