15 Jul 19
2019 is well on its way to being the year of the high-profile IPO.
Still, the year that gave investors the likes of Uber, Slack and Beyond Meat is just getting started, according to Wall Street insiders.
“This has been the year when cloud-based companies and on-demand services came of age,” Santosh Rao, head of research at Manhattan Venture Partners, told Fortune.
Investors have been bullish on a whole host of companies making their public debut this year—in a variety of fields. Matthew Kennedy, senior IPO market strategist at Renaissance Capital, a provider of institutional research and IPO ETFs, says 2019 is the year of “high-valued tech companies.”
Kennedy says the 2nd quarter saw 20 tech companies raise almost $15 billion—and that, in the last five years, “only one other quarter has had $10 billion or more [raised] in the tech sector,” he said.
But zooming out, Rao suggests 2019 in particular has been a “perfect set up for an IPO” due to a hunt for high-growth stocks, scarcity of large companies coming to market and the fact that investors “don’t want to miss out” on the next big IPO, Rao says. And to boot, he believes companies are equally aware of the rush to market—”You don’t know when the party’s going to end.”
Still, while it’s clear investors are hungry for IPOs, Rao says the market has some criteria. “[IPOs this year] need to show two things. One, their top-line is growing, and second, there is definitely a path to profitability,” he says.
Here are eight not-to-be-missed IPOs expected to debut this year.
1. The We Company (TBD)
The We Company (formerly known as WeWork) may be making its long-awaited debut sometime this year after confidentially filing to go public late last year.
The workspace rental company is arguably one of the most heavily-anticipated companies to debut this year. The company, which is supposedly valued at $47 billion, hasn’t announced a concrete IPO date yet. But some on Wall Street seem to think they may need to strike while the iron is hot.
“The case can be made that they should get [out of] the gate now while the going is great, the economy is booming, vacancy rates are low, people are expanding, … so just get it out while the newsflow is great,” Rao says.
But WeWork’s losses last year surmounted even Uber’s: it lost $1.9 billion on $1.8 billion revenue. “I would be worried about WeWork if they don’t have a clear path to profitability,” Kennedy says. “I think they could run into some of the same issues that investors had with Lyft and Uber.”
The company is now seeking to raise up to $4 billion in debt before its IPO, the Wall Street Journal reported. The debt offering may be an attempt for the unprofitable company to bolster investor confidence before its public debut.
2. iHeartMedia (July)
From the sound of it, [hotlink]iHeartMedia[/hotlink] is gunning for the rarer direct listing.
The radio company filed a listing with Nasdaq under the ticker “IHRT,” due to debut on July 18. The most recent company to list directly was Slack Technologies.
The move to go public may surprise those observing the radio industry, as iHeartMedia, the largest radio broadcaster in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just last year. And while the filing restructured some $20.5 billion in debt, the company still holds over $5 billion as of March this year.
Still, the move to publicly list seems to suggest some faith in the supposedly dying radio industry. In fact, iHeartMedia estimates they have over 270 million listeners per month, as of last year—more than Spotify’s estimated 222 million. And on a cash basis, iHeartMedia was positive at the end of 2018 with about $448 million on hand.
But whether or not Wall Street will dial in to the radio giant’s stock is yet to be seen.
3. Airbnb (TBD)
The home-rental app has long been in the spotlight for an IPO. But now that the company says it’s regularly profitable on an EBITDA level, Airbnb seems set for its long-awaited debut. The company claimed they made “substantially more” than $1 billion in revenue in the 3rd quarter of 2018.
Several experts suggest that the company’s cash and current profitability make it a prime candidate for the now in-vogue direct listing.
Rao says the two things a company needs to be a good candidate for a direct listing are not needing cash immediately and being a household name. He believes Airbnb has both.
In a similar vein as Uber, Rao thinks “Airbnb is going to be the next big event.” Although the company hasn’t set an IPO date yet, some reports suggest it may be pushed into 2020.
4. Peloton (TBD)
The so-called “Netflix for fitness” Peloton is supposedly working out an IPO debut.
Founded in 2012, the cycle and treadmill maker confidentially filed for an IPO in June with its latest valuation over $4 billion.
The fitness company has risen in popularity in recent years, but Rao claims it’s still a “niche player.”
“There’s a very thin line separating fad from a long-term trend, so hopefully this is not something people get tired of,” Rao said. He adds that Peloton’s upfront investment is big and that their new digital membership plan is a plus, but that the company needs to sort out its intellectual property issues (notably lawsuits with Flywheel Sports over possible patent infringement).
But those like Rao remain optimistic about Peloton’s public debut.
“Of course there are going to be lawsuits,” Rao says, because companies like Peloton are “disrupting an entrenched industry.” Still, Rao maintains the core product the exercise company offers is good.
5. Postmates (TBD)
You may soon be able to have Postmates shares delivered on-demand.
The Uber Eats challenger’s latest valuation puts the company at close to the $2 billion mark after receiving an additional $100 million in investment earlier this year. The company confidentially filed for an IPO back in February.
While the delivery company is reportedly still unprofitable, according to co-founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann last year, the executive seems bullish on its potential as a public company. “I think [Postmates] is a great American brand that deserves to be public, and we really like 2019,” Lehmann told CNBC last year.
6. Robinhood (TBD)
Although the millennial trading app hasn’t settled on an exact date yet, Robinhood is supposedly planning to start trading its own shares.
The trading app’s CEO Baiju Bhatt confirmed Robinhood is planning for an IPO, and is also searching for a chief financial officer.
The company is on track for a $7 to $8 billion valuation due to recent investment of around $200 million, CNBC reported in May. However, the official IPO date is yet to be determined.
7. Casper (TBD)
Don’t sleep on this mattress company.
Mattress retailer Casper was recently valued at over $1.1 billion after raising an additional $100 million in March.
According to leaked financials by The Information in March, Casper projected a year-over-year increase in revenues of 49% for 2018, and the company says they made nearly $400 million in revenue last year.
While their IPO date is still being determined, investors may be encouraged by the performance of Casper’s peers’ stock—two of which, Tempur Sealy and Purple Innovation, are up 50% and 5% this year respectively.
Casper began the search for IPO underwriters in March, CNBC reported.
8. Aramco (TBD)
The world’s most profitable company is planning to IPO this year (or next).
Aramco, the Saudi Arabian titan of oil, is seeking a stunning $2 trillion valuation, but its hefty price tag may be hard to get in the current market. Concerns over lower oil prices and investing with companies contributing to climate change may throw Aramco’s valuation into question. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also considered debuting the stock in the U.S., but has concerns over regulations, according to reports.
While its original plan for an IPO was announced in 2016, Aramco may not actually initiate a listing until late 2019 or next year. Recent reports suggest the company may even postpone until 2021.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—Slack went public without an IPO. Here’s how a direct offering works
—4 reasons to be skeptical about Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency
—Bank of America CEO: “We want a cashless society”
—Fintech startup Tally has raised $50 million to automate people’s finances
—Listen to our new audio briefing, Fortune 500 Daily
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