Another week, another five days full of IPOs. In other words, welcome to 2014. So far, this year is on track to be one of the best on record for new stock issues; according to IPO specialist Renaissance Capital, over 150 IPOs have been priced, with $32 billion in proceeds raised from issues coming to market.
The latter number is nearly 50% higher than at the same time in 2013 -- which, by the way, was the year that recorded the highest number of new issues and total proceeds since 2000.
That makes it tempting to hot-foot it to your brokerage's website, select an upcoming issue, and place a big order, doesn't it? Well, not so fast: We need to warn that IPO investing carries above-average risk, as initial stock prices can be far from the value the market eventually puts on the company's shares. This provides great upside potential, but conversely, it also carries the risk of losing a substantial part of an investment.
OK, you've gotten our usual tsk-tsk. Now for this week's three picks.
El Pollo Loco Holdings
"The Crazy Chicken," a drive-through fast-food chain specializing in its namesake poultry and a variety of Tex-Mex items, has a big flock in Southern California. It's got a smaller presence in four other Western states, and as of the end of March, it had a network of 401 restaurants. Roughly 42% of these are company-operated, while the remainder are franchised. The Chicken has strong regional brand awareness going for it as well as rising revenue, although it's struggled to turn a bottom-line profit in recent years.
Just over 7.1 million shares of El Pollo Loco will fly to the market on Friday, priced at $13 to $15 per share. They are to be listed on the Nasdaq, bearing the ticker symbol LOCO (of course). The lead underwriters of the flotation are Leucadia's (NYSE:JEF) Jefferies, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and Baird.
Advanced Drainage Systems
It might not have the sexiest company name in the world, but Advanced Drainage Systems' moniker is wonderfully self-descriptive -- the company does good business selling heavy-duty pipe and related materials, including storm and septic chambers. The firm has done a good job of increasing its revenue over the past few years, and it lands consistently in the black, although that profitability tends to lurch up and down quite a bit.
Advanced Drainage Systems' IPO will take place on Friday, and 14.5 million shares will be sold for $17 to $19 apiece, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WMS. The issue's lead underwriters are Barclays (NYSE:BCS) and Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) Securities.
Orion Engineered Carbons
This Germany-based chemical producer specializes in carbon black, a versatile petroleum by-product used as a coloring agent and filler for a wide variety of goods. There's a lot of use for the stuff, as evidenced by the company's most recent annual revenue figure of $1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion). Orion and its predecessor firm have posted net losses over the past several years; at least some of this is due to weakness on their home market of Europe. Perhaps with a U.S. listing and a stronger presence here, it can turn those bottom-line figures the color of its signature product.
Friday will be the day Orion Engineered Carbons makes its debut on the market, specifically the NYSE, and 18 million shares will be sold for $21 to $24 per share. The issue will be lead-underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), and UBS Investment Bank. The stock's ticker symbol is to be OEC.