IPO/Fund Raising

IPO & Fund Raising lastest financial news from China

Offshore China Tech IPO Wave Should Peter Out by Next Year

Bottom line: The current wave of US and Hong Kong IPOs by Chinese tech firms may still have some power, but should peter out by the first quarter of next year.

I’ve been trying for quite some time to call the end of the current wave of China tech IPOs, which is the longest I can recall in my nearly two decades of covering the sector. That wave recently passed a major milestone with the second anniversary of the Hong Kong IPO for ZhongAn (HKEx: 6060), the online insurer backed by Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Tencent (HKEx: 700), which I consider the first major listing in the current wave.

But despite thinking the end was near on several occasions, the stream of new listings in both New York and Hong Kong has continued relatively strong. As if to hammer home that point, Chinese bitcoin-mining machine-maker Canaan, filed on Monday for a U.S. listing to raise up to $400 million.

But while Canaan looks for the Promised Land in New York, another high-profile trading debut late last week had me wondering once again if the end could be near for the current window. That deal saw Youdao (Nasdaq: DAO), a well-known and respected online dictionary operator owned by internet giant NetEase (Nasdaq: NTES), make a dismal trading debut on Wall Street, capping an equally miserable trip to market.

The first signs of trouble came when the money-losing company, which bills itself as an education services provider because its better-known dictionary and translation services are largely free, had to majorly downsize its IPO fundraising target from an original $300 million to about $100 million. It ultimately raised an even paltrier $95 million.

But the bad news didn’t end there. The company’s stock lost more than a quarter of its value on its first trading day last Friday, though the price did manage to stabilize on Monday, giving the company a skimpy market value of $280 million.

I polled a few of my contacts who work closely with these companies, and a couple of interesting points came out on what’s happening here, shedding some light on whether the end could finally be near for the current listing window. The more obvious of those points is that we’re really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel with companies now coming to market, which may explain Youdao’s performance.

Put simply, investors are getting tired of the money-losing status of many of the companies now listing, especially ones without a clear roadmap to profitability. Youdao fits that description, having posted a net loss of 168 million yuan ($24 million) in the first half of this year, twice as wide as a year earlier.

Another company following down a similar IPO path is 36Kr, operator of a popular high-tech news portal. After initially saying it was aiming to raise $100 million in late September, the company has just come out with an updated prospectus saying the target has been lowered to $72 million — a 28% reduction. Like Youdao, 36Kr is also quite money-losing, posting a net loss of 313 million yuan in the first half of this year — more than 10 times its loss a year earlier.

IPO at any cost?

Having reviewed the more obvious point that many listings now coming to market are hardly cash cows, let’s move on to the more subtle message that came out in my discussions. Several of my contacts said many of the companies now coming to market are simply dead set on listing outside China, come hell or high water. Accordingly, they are willing to put up with this kind of humiliating publicity just to get their shares up and trading in New York or Hong Kong.

So why would anyone put up with such humiliation, not to mention risk losing huge money on a weak valuation? The answer lies in Beijing, which has spent most of the past two years tightening the noose on money leaving the country. Its reasons for doing so are tied to the nation’s slowing economy, which has put huge downward pressure on China’s currency, the yuan. In such a climate, restricting movement of yuan out of the country and into other currencies is one way to relieve pressure on the currency.

Thus the thesis becomes that many of the IPOs now coming to market are basically being driven by company founders and backers whose main interest is opening up a channel for getting their money out of the country as other channels dry up. That explains why many of the listings now coming to market are for $100 million or less, since simply opening the channel becomes the primary objective rather than real fundraising.

Once the channel is open, it’s relatively easy for China-based stakeholders to convert their shares to U.S. or Hong Kong dollars either by selling into the open market or through secondary offerings. The latter is what news aggregator Qutoutiao did, raising $100 million through a secondary offering in April after netting a more modest $84 million in its New York IPO last September.

As if to confirm that point, one of my sources told me that two listings now nearing completion, one for audio community operator Lizhi and another for “co-living platform” Phoenix Tree, are both aiming for modest fundraising targets of about $100 million. Two other online real estate-related listings expected to debut in the next couple of weeks, Q&K International and Fangdd, are also eyeing modest sums in the $100 million to $150 million range.

So what does this unusual dynamic mean for the current IPO wave? The answer seems to be that the wave may still have some power. But I do expect it to peter out by the first quarter of next year, as even the bottom-feeding investors tire of it.

INTERNET: Mogu, China Techs Learn Importance of Profits

Bottom line: Shares of recently listed loss-making Chinese tech firms like Mogu are likely to languish as long as they post losses, but could gain some new life if and when they can show sustained profits.

Wall Street tells China tech firms to “Show me the profits”

“Show me the profits.” That seems to be the message coming from Wall Street these days to a group of profit-challenged Chinese tech companies whose shares are languishing following IPOs over the past year. We’ll look at one such case involving online fashion site Mogu (NYSE: MOGU), which seems to typify the trend of shares that have tanked since their recent offerings.

But first we need to start with some broader background about what’s going on with Chinese high-tech IPOs in the US these days. The current wave of such listings not only in New York but also in Hong Kong dates back nearly two years, marking one of the longest-running windows I can recall in the two decades I’ve covered this group. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Money Losers Meituan, Luckin Search for Profits

Bottom line: Meituan’s opening of its delivery unit to more customers looks smart but will require execution to succeed, while shares of money-losing Starbucks challenger Luckin will move steadily downward in the months after its super-sized IPO. 

Meituan opens up delivery service

A couple of money-losers are in the headlines these last few days, casting a spotlight on how profits continue to evade many of China’s hottest tech companies and what they’re doing to try to change that. This kind of loss-making isn’t all that uncommon for such startups. But in at least one of the cases we’re looking at today, the company Meituan Dianping (HKEx: 3690), is already a decade old or more, depending on which piece of it you look at. That hardly qualifies as a startup by most people’s definition, even though the company is still losing massive money.

The news involving Meituan has it opening up one of its biggest money gobblers, which specializes in restaurant takeout delivery, to other third-party customers besides just restaurants. The other news involves Luckin, an app-only coffee chain that wants to challenge Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX). That news had the company significantly supersizing its IPO plan to $500 million despite the fact that it’s just two years old.  Read Full Post…

IPOs: Money-Burners DouYu, Luckin Look to Wall Street for Cash

Bottom line: Live streaming gamer DouYu should get relatively strong demand for its $500 million New York IPO, while a smaller listing plan by younger coffee specialist Luckin is likely to die on the vine.

Coffee specialist Luckin brews up Wall Street IPO

One of the longest runs I can recall for New York IPOs by Chinese firms continues to chug ahead, with two new filings, one by live streaming game operator DouYu and the other by a high-tech Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) challenger called Luckin. This particular IPO window is now rapidly creeping up on its second anniversary and doesn’t seem to show too many signs of running out of steam.

The big difference between companies coming to market now is that many are younger and still losing big money, compared with companies earlier in the wave that were older and mostly profitable. That’s not too surprising, since usually the most profitable companies move to the front of the line because they’re naturally more attractive. Read Full Post…

MEDIA: Qutoutiao in Fund-Raising Frenzy

Bottom line: Qutoutiao’s recent flurry of fund-raising, including a major  loan from Alibaba, underscores rising confidence in the news aggregator after its lackluster IPO last year.

Qutoutiao in new fund-raising frenzy

News aggregator Qutoutiao (Nasdaq: QTT) is making up for lost time following its lackluster IPO last fall that raised far less than its original target. The company has just announced a new share sale that will generate about $30 million in cash, just days after raising another $171 million from e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA).

Investors didn’t seem too impressed with the latest cash-raising exercises, with Qutoutiao’s shares shedding some 8 percent in the last trading session. That drop appears related to announcement of the pricing of this latest share sale, since the company first announced the move a few days ago. Regardless of that, this does provide a good opening for us to take a closer look at this company. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Online Education Looks Good in Principle

Bottom line: The online education sector is currently in a teething phase that could last for the next two years, but could offer big potential for investors who can separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Big potential in online education?

Today I thought I’d look at some of the major online education stocks to hit the market over the last two years, most turning in a decidedly negative performance that may or may not be justified. The latest of those, Koolearn (HKEx: 1797) stumbled out of the gate late last week with a flat trading debut, and since has posted some minor gains that probably don’t mean too much. (English article)

Koolearn’s anemic performance actually looks quite strong when compared with some of the others that have floated shares over the last two years. Most of those are down moderately to sharply over the last 52 weeks, led by a 67 percent plunge for one called Puxin (NYSE: NEW) and a 55 percent slide for another called Sunlands (NYSE: STG). Read Full Post…

IPOs: With Shutdown in Past, Live Broadcaster Douyu Lines Up to List

Bottom line: A slowdown in New York IPOs by Chinese firms at the start of the year was largely caused by the government shutdown, and activity could soon pick up starting with a listing by leading live broadcaster Douyu.

Government shutdown hits IPOs

We’ll kick off my first post of the Lunar New Year with a look at New York IPO activity in the first part of 2019, or more precisely the lack of activity for Chinese companies. If this were any other year, I would say such a silence is probably normal, since in the past the first quarter has been a difficult period due to the western New Year holiday on Jan. 1 followed rapidly by the Chinese New Year, which this year fell on Feb. 5.

But this is no ordinary year, coming off a 2018 that was one of the busiest years for Chinese IPOs in New York and Hong Kong in quite some time. This year got off to a relatively quick start with a New York IPO filing to raise up to $300 million by financial technology (fintech) company Futu, which actually came at the very end of last year. (English article) Now the latest reports are saying video streaming site Douyu has just made its own confidential filings for an even bigger offering that could raise up to $500 million. (English article) Read Full Post…

IPOs: No One Comes to Haier’s German Party

Bottom line:  Haier’s weak IPO under a new German program to internationalize Chinese stocks owes to lack of awareness and thin trading, and reflects challenges the new market will face in its drive for recognition.

Haier IPO party draws low interest

What if you threw an IPO and nobody came? That’s what seems to be happening for home appliance giant Haier, which has just made the inaugural listing on a new Sino-German stock exchange aimed at internationalizing Chinese companies. The program captured headlines earlier this year when it was first announced that Haier had been selected to make the inaugural listing. But momentum has rapidly faded since then.

I’ll examine some of the reasons for the lackluster debut shortly, and what it might mean for the internationalization of Chinese stocks, which appears to be the bigger goal with this program. But first let’s review this latest less-than-dazzling end to a story that began with relatively strong sentiment and big hopes. Read Full Post…

IPOs: What’s Up With Spikes, Declines for Nio, Qutoutiao?

Bottom line: Big volatility for first-week trading debuts of Nio and Qutoutiao point to problems with pricing and investor indecision in the current market, and could point to more rocky debuts for at least the next few weeks. 

Nio, Qutotiao go “pop”, but then fizzle

When I previously wrote about low expectation for an IPO last week by new energy startup Nio (NYSE: NIO), I wasn’t all that surprised when the company notched a more upbeat New York debut with a 5 percent gain on its first trading day. After all, the company had been so beaten down during the IPO process that this was something akin to a dead-cat bounce and a small present for the money-losing company as it entered the publicly traded realm.

But then the stock suddenly soared by more than 70 percent on its second trading day — something one seldom sees with new IPOs. I was tempted to write the whole thing off as manipulation, even though I had no direct evidence, since the company sold around 90 percent of its IPO shares to just 10 investors. That meant that a couple of large investors could have simply traded their huge blocks of shares between each other at inflated prices, and neither would have lost any money in the process. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Meituan-Dianping Listing Shows Signs of Life

Bottom line:  Nio stock is likely to give back most of its huge second day gains over the next couple of weeks, while Meituan-Dianping could debut strongly but will likely stagnate for its first two years as a public company.

Meituan, Nio display surprising strength

It seems that perhaps I was a bit premature earlier this week when I wrote the latest listing by electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio showed investors had lost appetite for money-losing Chinese tech firms. Nio’s stock has actually done quite well in its first two trading days, after a tepid pre-debut reception. And now we’re getting word that money-losing online-to-offline (O2O) services giant Meituan-Dianping has also priced its own mega-offering in Hong Kong at the top of its range.

Such a sudden shift in sentiment seems hard to explain, and I do suspect there may be at least a little manipulation going on behind the scenes. Still, perhaps investors are feeling just a tad more upbeat about Chinese tech these last few days in light of new signs that the US-China trade war may soon ease with new talks scheduled to try to hammer out a deal. Read Full Post…

IPOs: EV Maker Nio Sputters Out of the Gate With Weak Pricing

Bottom line: Nio’s shares are likely to debut flat to down slightly in a lackluster New York trading debut, capping an IPO process pockmarked by investor skepticism.

Investors fail to charge Nio IPO

Wall Street investors will get a taste of a new flavor of Chinese company very soon, when homegrown electric vehicle maker Nio makes its trading debut on Wednesday. But based on all the signals so far, this offering for a company that some have likened to China’s answer to Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) could be a major flop. That would be somewhat appropriate given all of the real Tesla’s current woes, which point to the difficulties of building up a major new car maker from scratch.

Nio’s road to New York has been pockmarked with negative signposts pretty much all of the way. The latest of those has media reporting the company has priced its IPO American depositary shares (ADSs) at the very bottom of their range, at a price of $6.25 apiece, raising a total of $1 billion. (English article) That compares with an initial target of up to $1.8 billion, and I’ve heard that even that figure was trimmed back from initial hopes of more like $2 billion. (English article) Read Full Post…