Yandex headlines busy week for IPOs

Russian search firm Yandex could turn out to be the star of this week's IPOs, raising $1.3 billion on the heels of LinkedIn's debut.

By TheStreet Staff May 24, 2011 12:06PM

By Debra Borchardt, TheStreet

 

It's a busy week for initial public offerings with eight companies scheduled to go public, and it looks like Tuesday's headliner, Yandex (YNDX) may be the star of the bunch.

 

Known as the RussianGoogle (GOOG), Yandex reportedly was able to price its stock sale at $25 per share, above a projected range of $20-$22 per share, allowing the Internet search company to raise $1.3 billion late Monday, according to The New York Times.

 

Yandex is often compared toBaidu.com (BIDU), and that would likely be fine for investors who are buying Yandex stock on its first day. Baidu shares, which are up more than 40% in 2011, went public in 2005 at $27 per share and closed Monday at $129.47.

 

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Yandex is the most popular search engine in Russia as well as the most visited Web site in the country, and Wall Street loves a market leader so this one seems likely to see a healthy spike once it opens. It'll also probably benefit from the tremendous debut of LinkedIn (LNKD) last week, as investors who missed out on that rocket ride up may refuse to take the chance of being left out this time around.

Another big deal in this week's lineup is the $1 billion offering by Freescale Semiconductor (FSL), which is selling more than 43 million shares with pricing projected between $22 and $24 per share.

 

Chip stocks have been pulling back lately, meaning this deal could suffer from poor timing. The company has more than 30% of the embedded processor market, but a negative book value when compared to its peers. It also lost money in the March quarter, while its competitors were profitable.

 

On a positive note, Freescale's sales increased 17% year-over-year to $1.19 billion in the March quarter, and the company's loss narrowed to $148 million from $257 million a year earlier. For 2010, Freescale lost $1.05 billion on revenue of $4.46 billion.

 

This deal represents a return to the public markets for Freescale, a former Motorola spin-off that was acquired by a private equity consortium including The Blackstone Group (BX) in 2006. As always with a private equity deal, there's plenty of debt on Freescale's balance sheet, a whopping $7.6 billion as of April 1, to give investors pause.

 

Francis Gaskins, president of the IPO Desktop, thinks if investors want to buy a semiconductor company, there are better choices with less risk. Freescale is expected to start trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "FSL."

 

Solazyme (SZYM) isn't a huge IPO, but it is generating some buzz. The San Francisco-based company is looking to sell 10 million shares at a projected price range of $15-$17 when it makes its debut on the Nasdaq on Friday with the ticker symbol "SZYM."

 

Solazyme makes oil from sugar cane and has lined up some big name partners. For example, Sephora inked a deal in March with cosmetics company Sephora, and television shopping company QVC for the marketing of an anti-aging line of skincare products.

 

Solazyme also has a deal with Dow Chemical (DOW) related to the use of algal oils in bio-based dielectric insulating fluids, and Chevron (CVX) is a partner as well.

 

The company, which has also received $21 million from the Department of Energy for construction of a biorefinery, is early in its commercialization stage, but could begin to generate revenue from these partnerships in the near future. The book-to-value ratio is in line with similar renewable product businesses.

 

Canadian oil and gas plays may have looked more enticing when crude oil was over $100, but that doesn't necessarily mean interest has diminished in Lone Pine Resources (LPR), a spinoff from Forest Oil (FST).

 

Lone Pine is hoping to raise $285 million in an offering expected to debut on Thursday. The company is looking to sell 15 million common shares and has a projected pricing range of $15-$18 for the deal. The parent's stock price has dropped a bit and IPO Desktop's Gaskins believes it's safer to buy a spinoff when the parent company is on an upswing.

 

The Chinese aren't done with the IPO market just yet as Nobao Renewable Energy (NRE) is slated to come to market with a $134 million offering on Friday.

 

Gaskins is skeptical to say the least. "It's one of the biggest scams I've seen in years," he says. While Nobao Renewable describes itself as providing energy management systems for commercial buildings based on ground source heat pump technology, Gaskins said the company's technology is outdated, and that Nobao has already churned through $304 million with no possibility of a positive cash flow.

 

According to a regulatory filing related to the IPO, Nobao managed to lose $160 million in 2010 while generating sales of $53 million. For the three months ended March 31, the company lost another $95 million on sales of $28 million. "It's a real life cash burning machine," said Gaskins.

 

Spirit Airlines (SAVE) is scheduled to go public on Wednesday. The company, which is a low-fare player flying mainly to Florida and the Caribbean, is looking to raise $300 million through the sale of 20 million shares at a projected price range of $14-$16 each.

 

The airline business is a tough one, since so much is dependent on the cost of jet fuel, but Spirit seems to be focused on a niche market that's paying off. The company saw its revenue go up 27% year over year and profits went up 12 % during the same period. Its fleet is young -- averaging four years -- and the company plans to add 33 new aircraft. With an implied price-to-book ratio of 2.4X at the midpoint of its pricing range, Spirit would trade at a discount to Allegiant Travel Co. (ALGT), which is at 2.8.

 

The Active Network (ACTV) generated revenue of $280 million in 2010 but still came in $27 million in the red. The company, which provides event registration services for sporting events like marathons, has been in business since 1999, and it's planning to raise $187 million through the sale of 11 million shares at a projected price range of $16-$18 per share.

And finally, Sabre Industries (SABR) is the smallest offering of the bunch. The company, which makes wireless communication towers, is seeking to raise $91 million through the sale of 7 million shares with a projected price range of $12-$14.

 

Sabre depends onVerizon (VZ) for 15% of its sales. The company said in its S-1 filing that it expects sales for the fiscal year ended April 30 came in between $275 million and $281 million, up from sales of $255.3 million in the previous fiscal year. Its net income for the year is projected between $2.6 million and $3.1 million.

 

IPO Desktop's Gaskins is concerned that the company is selling 54% of itself in the offering, which he sees as a warning sign.

 

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