IPOs on the Edge Ahead of Google

Wed Aug 4, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ahead of the most highly anticipated initial public offering of the year, investor appetite is running cold for new deals.

Next week Web search giant Google Inc. will attempt to raise $3 billion in its offering. But this week, a number of IPOs are either being delayed or cutting their expected pricing range as U.S. stock markets continued to be pressured by rising oil prices and concerns over corporate profits.

On Tuesday, real estate investment trust CNL Hotels & Resorts Inc. postponed its initial public offering "due to market conditions."

On Wednesday Nanosys Inc., whose IPO had been dubbed a "coming-out party" for the burgeoning nanotechnology industry, withdrew its IPO due to adverse market conditions, and medical device company EMPI Inc postponed its deal as well.

"Since the general equity market has been under such pressure, it's starting now to affect the IPO market," said Sal Morreale, who tracks IPOs for Cantor Fitzgerald.

He said companies that are on the "fringe" with weak or no earnings or a balance sheet that is not as strong as it should be are going to run into problems.

"A lot of these things will not get done," he said.

Also late Wednesday, several other companies postponed pricing, including medical device makers EMPI Inc. and Symmetry Medical Inc.

New River Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was supposed to price Tuesday, had not priced late Wednesday. Other companies slated to go public Wednesday had also not priced definitively were RightNow Technologies Inc., a customer service software company, and safety systems maker Commercial Vehicle Group Inc.

And online media company PlanetOut Inc., which serves gays, lesbians and the transgender community, earlier cut the expected price of its planned IPO to $9 to $11 per share from $12 to $14.

Looking ahead, Google could raise as much as $3.3 billion in its IPO next week if the deal prices on the high end of expectations.

It is selling its shares to the public through an auction, in which potential investors will submit bids outlining the number of shares they want to buy and at what price. But with the shares expected to price over $100 and a minimum bid of five shares being required, many potential investors are saying the deal is too expensive.



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