A Blueprint for Highflier Stability

 | Apr 14, 2014 | 11:49 AM EDT  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

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biib

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lq

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ally

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We are getting some of the signs of stability that I have been looking for among highfliers, and I think we have a blueprint for how it can continue.

The first positive sign? Initial public offerings. I like to quote from Investor's Business Daily in these matters, and the top headline in the paper today speaks loudly: "IPO Frenzy Freezes as Four New Issues Fail to Debut Friday." The deals that didn't occur include a couple of biotechs and a human-resources-management company, two of the most thoroughly saturated sectors of this market. Those deals would be the last thing this market needs. The human-resources-management space is so crowded now that it has crushed the best of the best, Cornerstone onDemand (CSOD) and Workday (WDAY), which have repeatedly failed to find footing. A cessation of deals in that area, after a series of post-IPO disasters, is a welcome event.

What can I say about the need to cancel the biotech deals? The biotech index is down 22%. The selling in Biogen Idec (BIIB), BioMarin (BMRN) and Alexion (ALXN) on top of the hideous action in Gilead (GILD) were grim reminders of how we are full up in biotech. The collapse of a farmland real estate investment trust deal, which had dropped 7% below its pricing, and the reduction in Phibro Animal Health's (PAHC) pricing to a level that allowed a pop were also welcome news.

Unfortunately, Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES), a fast-food casual-restaurant chain, exploded higher on its offering Friday and the 65% pop shows you this travesty of an IPO season can still hurt existing companies. Far more representative were the two giant busted deals, La Quinta (LQ), a $2 billion company that trades at a discount to its IPO price, and Ally Financial (ALLY), an $11 billion company that's a full dollar below its offering price. Those are truly cautionary tales that the IPO window, open widest since 2006, according to Renaissance Capital, might be closing at last.

The other positive sign? I have been saying that Twitter (TWTR) has become the poster child for the IPO pullback, where people who bought it that first day, after a magnificent run, have now round-tripped and lost money. This morning the big-gun owners of Twitter -- Benchmark, Jack Dorsey and Dick Costolo-- announced they don't intend to sell stock any time soon.

This is a very important development because unless we see more of this kind of "I am not selling" self-ban, we are going to continue to question the longevity of these companies that have come public in this era. In the year 2000, we had far more like Voxeljet (VJET), the 3-D printing company that sold 3 million shares last week at $15, down from $70, than we had anti-selling statements from insiders like those of Twitter.

So many people do not understand how insider selling and IPOs can kill the bull. That's because they didn't trade or invest during 2000. These two are so important because they were signs that the companies were jokes and the insiders knew it.

Like The Who, we can't and won't be fooled again. 

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