This Is the Worst IPO of 2011

This hasn't been a particularly good year for IPOs. The first half of the year started off well with LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) and Youku.com (NYSE: YOKU  ) popping dramatically above their IPO prices, but nearly everything since, including the two aforementioned companies, has subsequently fallen off the wagon.

Internet service companies and social media sites have lined up in droves to capitalize on precious capital that could be used to expand their businesses even faster. The only problem with this is these companies are choosing to bring only a parcel of their projected outstanding shares to offering which only confuses short-term traders and artificially pumps up the price of the stock. While it may create a "euphoric" one-day effect, it does little to create long-term value for shareholders.

But, every once in a while an IPO comes around that's literally so bad that no amount of makeup can hide its flaws. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Angie's List (Nasdaq: ANGI  ) , easily the worst IPO of 2011.

Angie's List is a direct competitor to Yelp in that it gathers customer reviews of professionals. The idea here is that consumers will use Angie's List as a one-stop shop for choosing their next handyman and in turn pay a membership fee to get honest advice from fellow members. It's a nice little pipedream. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked for 16 years and counting.

Angie's List not only has been losing money since its inception, but it has been diluting shareholder equity by issuing shares in order to pay for its day-to-day operations. Add the new costs associated with being a publicly listed company and the more stringent audit requirements that go with being on a national exchange and you have a recipe for even larger losses than before. In fact, we're already seeing those losses increase from $19 million year-to-date last year to more than $43 million this year.

The primary problem with Angie's List -- other than the key factor that it can't and will never turn a profit -- is its inability to stand out from its competition. I could just as easily see Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) or Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) stepping in and literally whipping up a competing service overnight. The barrier to entry is also very minimal, leaving little security that Angie's List has any long-term potential.

I give Angie's List three to four years before it caves in to its unfavorable customer capture costs and goes the way of the dodo. I'm so confident that Angie's List will not succeed that I'm willing to bet my CAPS points on it. Here's to what I hope will be my second bankruptcy charm.

Does Angie's List have any chance of turning things around, or is this stock going to wind up in the graveyard next to pets.com? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider backing it up with a CAPS call of your own!

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He actually misses those pets.com commercials, believe it or not. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Yahoo!. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Yahoo!. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that always strives for a five-star review.


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  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2011, at 11:23 PM, prginww wrote:

    Right on! I was an angie's list member for less than a year before cancelling. Many of the reviews were bogus probably written by friends of the service providers. Even the recommended providers were often bad.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 9:26 AM, Quaker08 wrote:

    My vote for worst IPO of 2011 goes to FFN.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 12:07 PM, hiddenflem wrote:

    I like Angie's list actually. never did get my free m&ms for referring others though now that I think about it.

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