There may have been an initial burst of IPO activity as 2012 opened, but the pipeline has slowed since the close of the first quarter, say industry onlookers.
“Right now, the oil and gas IPO market is on hold until conditions improve,” says Larry Stevens , a partner at Houston-based Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP , in comments to Oil and Gas Investor . “There have been no E&P company IPOs since Midstates Petroleum in late April 2012.”
What’s with the slow rate of oil company IPOs? Stevens says there is no shortage of factors in play that are gumming up the works.
“You have weak commodity prices, gas storage is at or near capacity and there is a fear of worldwide recession,” he adds. “Plus, investment money is flowing out of the public energy company sector.”
Then there’s the 400-lb. gorilla in the room -- Facebook. “Facebook was big and emblematic of fear that shares will trade down after an IPO and that investors will lose money on the trade down,” Stevens says. “Look at the few energy company IPOs in 2012. All were priced at less than what company management had expected and all have traded down since the IPO and are selling at discounts up to as much as one third of the IPO price -- even for companies with solid reserves and excellent management teams.”
As Stevens notes, the Hindenburg-like performance from Facebook in its initial public offering this spring hasn’t helped oil and gas IPOs -- or many IPOs, for that matter.
While the focus here is always on oil and gas stocks, the Facebook case provides some clarity and direction on the IPO market in 2012.
Facebook’s IPO kicked on May 18, and, following Murphy’s Law, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
Let’s review, point-by-point, and see how the overall IPO market might have been impacted as a result:
— Facebook’s trading exchange of choice, Nasdaq, suffered a crippling computer problem during the first few hours of IPO trading, leading to misdirected trades.
— Facebook’s underwriter, Morgan Stanley, faced immediate criticism -- and legal action -- on a trading price that many Wall Streeters deemed too pricey (a view that was subsequently validated).
— Facebook’s top brass was accused of leaking company earnings to select industry insiders before the IPO, and before the earnings were made public.
— As for the share price itself,