Why Are You Going Public Now?

You've got some nerve, Rosetta Stone.

You filed to go public last night, hoping the market would take to your freshly-minted shares the way that language-hungry consumers have taken to your foreign language learning software.

I hope you're right. Just don't expect the red carpet treatment from Mr. Market.

It's a tough time to go public. Rackspace (NYSE: RAX  ) is a fast-growing leader in the booming Web hosting industry. It's been growing its top line at a compounded rate of 55% over the past five years, and that heady pace actually accelerated in its latest quarter.

Despite Rackspace's growth stock charm, the market wanted nothing to do with last month's IPO. The company went public at $12.50 a share and has never traded at or above that price. It's trading in the single digits today.

Even some of the hottest IPOs over the past year like virtualization software pioneer VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) , cloud computing speedster NetSuite (NYSE: N  ) , and leading Chinese real estate agency E-House (NYSE: EJ  ) are all trading below their IPO prices. That is enough to scare away potential buyers, forcing your initial pricing range to skew lower. Even Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) had to lower its initial pricing expectations when it went public in 2004, and that was under a kinder climate.

I get the urgency, Rosetta. You're on a roll after last month's Olympics. You have folks like Michael Phelps singing your praises, as the record-breaking swimmer turned to Rosetta Stone to brush up on Mandarin before heading out to Beijing.

You're also profitable and growing nicely. Revenue inched 39% higher through the first half of the year. A year ago -- or a year from now -- the market would be all over you, but it's going to be hard to turn heads while the market is losing its own.

How do you say "disappointment" in Mandarin? Is there a "look out below" phrase in German? Don't tell me. Your IPO will show me. You're a quality company Rosetta Stone, but in this market, you're going to be lost in translation.

Other ways to go public:

VMware and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is fluent in Spanish but lost everywhere else. Hdoes not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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