Are you looking for the next great IPO, standing at the beaches of Wall Street with a stock-chart surfboard, ready to ride the next great wave?

Don't hold your breath.

This spring's meltdown in the financial sector cut back the liquidity sloshing around, and the once-plentiful venture capital is staying on the sidelines. In the past three months, we've seen only about 15 IPOs, and none of those companies came from the venture-backed side of the tracks. Two of the biggest hits have been industrial fluids machinist Colfax (NYSE:CFX), with an impressive return of more than 30% since May 7, and water desalination specialist Energy Recovery (NASDAQ:ERII), with a return of more than 15% in the two days since its IPO on July 1. Colfax has been around since 1995, and Energy Recovery was founded in 1992. No spring chickens, folks.

In all, 36 IPOs were completed in the first half of 2008, down from 133 a year earlier. There are no public offerings coming up in the foreseeable future; about 26 companies have withdrawn their filings in three months. So another Visa (NYSE:V) (up around 80% in 16 weeks), Intrepid Potash (NYSE:IPI) (around 80% since late April), or VMware (NYSE:VMW) (about 85% since last August) isn't coming 'round the mountain anytime soon.

Once the credit crisis sorts itself out, along with the presidential election and the dreaded housing disaster that sparked this entire mess, well, the IPOs will come back. You know that Facebook is itching to go public eventually, and computer screen maker ViewSonic has already filed and withdrawn once. There are clearly plenty of excellent businesses around that would love that shot of capital in the arm to reach that next level of hypergrowth. When they do, we'd all like to surf their first splash on the markets.

But it will take time. IPO fans who like to wait for the next Lagundri Bay almond pipe had better have lungs like a blue whale.

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