I've seen kids wipe out as they rolled around on clunky Heelys shoes with retractable skating wheels. Soon we'll see if the market can show some better balance. In an SEC filing earlier this week, underwriters for the fast-growing footwear specialist have set initial pricing for the heavily anticipated Heelys IPO between $16 and $18 a share.
Heelys, which will trade under the ticker symbol HLYS, will be offering 6.3 million shares, with half of those coming from selling shareholders.
Like its wheeled footwear, the company has been on a roll lately. Sales more than doubled last year to $44 million and growth has accelerated so far in 2006. Through the first nine months of the year, net sales are up 303% to hit $117.1 million.
Impressed? Oh, it gets better. So far this year, earnings have surged better than 600% higher. I can't vouch for Heelys' skating skills, but it's got a perfect sense of timing.
The next great sole survivor
After the success of the recent Crocs
Heelys has been consistently profitable. Over the past four quarters, the company has generated $19.1 million in trailing net income and it's heading into its seasonally potent holiday quarter. With 23.9 million shares outstanding after the market debut, the stock is coming to market at a reasonable 20 to 23 times trailing earnings. Even once you account for the impact of 2 million outstanding options at lower strike prices, you still have a company priced at a P/E multiple in the low to mid 20s, despite its insane growth spurt over the past two years.
This isn't Nike
However, investors also have to realize that 99% of the company's sales this year have come from its wheeled footwear. Yes, the company has 77 different patents in 25 different countries, but the defensible patents could prove moot if this is a passing fad.
It's true; there are a few question marks here. Given the heady growth since Heelys bottomed out in 2004, why is this stock pricing itself so low? Its core audience may be teens, but that doesn't account for the mid-teens price.
If I'm right, assessing the company's valuation at the high end of its IPO range will be pointless. This has got Chipotle
And let's be frank about that likely pop. If the future is so bright, and if I'm not really going out on a limb in claiming that you won't be picking this up for $18 when it hits the market, why are 3.1 million shares being sold by insiders? Wouldn't a strong holiday quarter grease the system for a secondary offering next year at much higher exit points?
You also have the safety concerns. Remember when everyone was whizzing around in Razor scooters until activist groups began spreading the word on medical mishaps? Heelys are fun, but grazed knees and sprained wrists have to be a problem. How much longer will it be before someone starts up PAWS (Parents Against Wheeled Shoes)?
Although this kind of thinking can eat away at your convictions, I'm going to hold firm here. As long as you can buy in at a reasonable price, this seems to be a Wall Street winner in the making.
The power of buying early
An IPO isn't necessarily a ground floor opportunity. The founders, original hires, and venture capitalists are the ones that usually get in at rock bottom pricing. However, an IPO represents the first feasible chance for individual investors like you and me to latch on to promising growth stories.
I am part of the Rule Breakers team of analysts and we are always recommending freshly minted stocks with great stories to tell, like iRobot
I have no idea if Heelys will be the next new stock to make the cut at the newsletter, though I'm sure we will carefully dissect it to see if it has what it takes to power our collection of growth stocks that is currently blowing away the market averages.
Yes, Heelys looks like it's got wheels, but let's see what happens once it hits the market and we can truly take it out for a spin.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has two young sons, but only one of them likes to wear his pair of Heelys. He does not own shares in any of the stocks mentioned 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.