More and More Companies Are Too Scared to IPO

Kayak is the latest company that doesn't want to go public in this market

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Things are looking dour down on Wall Street, and it's not just the protests. On Thursday, Kayak became the latest tech company to tap the brakes on their plans for an initial public offering, and according to a number of studies. They are not alone to be pessimistic about their chances in current market conditions. September didn't see a single initial public offering and August saw only five. Currently at $34 billion, the lost value according to Bloomberg's numbers will exceed the record high $40 billion from 2010. The explanation is pretty simple: the markets are insanely volatile right now and nobody wants to risk it.

It's not for a lack of good candidates. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that over 366 companies plan IPOs this year, double the record low number that filed in 2009. But fewer of those that file are willing to make the leap. The New York Times's Dealbook reported that the backlog represents "the most companies in the I.P.O. pipeline since 2000 and the largest pent-up dollar amount on record." Among those that have stalled in order to wait for better market conditions are heavy hitters like Groupon who hope to bring in $750 million and Zynga who hope for a billion. Kayak is a curious example because they've been waiting for over a year to pull the trigger on their plans--leaving some to wonder if it's not just the bad market that's scaring them off--but the aggregate attitude can't be escaped. "IPO activities have fallen due to macro uncertainties in Europe and concerns over global economic growth," Ernst & Young vice chairman Maria Pinelli told the magazine. "We still see a record pipeline volume, but many companies have chosen to wait for a better environment."

Most of those that didn't wait to go public are paying the price. Despite the buzz of it's May offering, LinkedIn is trading almost $20 below its peak price in July. Pandora saw a similar spike and trough, topping out at $20 a share in July but sinking to $10 a share in August. Bloomberg data shows, "While Dunkin' Brands Group and Zillow completed IPOs during the quarter and have since climbed at least 40 percent, more than half of global IPOs this year are trading below their offer prices." Neil Dhar, a partner at PwC, had one word to describe investor sentiment in the rocky climate: "spooked."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.