Thu Sep 24 2015
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These Busted IPOs Now Have Impressive Upside


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What a difference a year makes. The market for initial public offerings (IPOs) was on fire in 2014, as 275 companies took the plunge, the highest figure since 2000. Those firms raised a collective $ 85 billion, which was also the best showing since 2000. A hot IPO market typically leads to great gains for investors lucky enough to get shares at the offering price.

Fast forward to 2015, and the IPO market has cooled off. Many companies such as Airbnb, Uber, or Spotify that may have contemplated going public this year, appear to be content to raise more money from private equity investors. For the companies that did decide to proceed with an IPO, results have ranged from tepid to lousy. Indeed many companies that became public this year are now selling below their offering price. Here’s a look at three of them that have suffered from bad timing, but should post solid rebounds as they put a few more quarters under their belt as a public company.

1.  TerraForm Global (Nasdaq: GLBL)
This company acts as an electric utility in many fast-growing emerging markets as Brazil, India and China, and derives almost of all of its power from clean energy sources such as solar farms. TerraForm was spun out from clean energy technology firm SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE). As is the case with most utilities, TerraForm locks in long-term supply contracts, and much of its cash flow is returned to investors in the form of dividends.

Unfortunately, fears over the Federal Reserve increasing interest rates has led many investors to reduce their exposure to yield-producing stocks. Even some of the most reliable dividend payers have been hit hard — and this IPO has not been spared. TerraForm went public at $ 15 a share at the end of July, and has already plunged to under $ 9.

What do you get for that $ 9 purchase? Around $ 1.30 a share in dividends next year, and likely around $ 1.50 a share dividend by 2017, according to consensus estimates. Beyond that time frame, the dividend should keep rising. That’s because TerraForm currently has 42 contracts to supply roughly 1.4 gigawatts (GW) of power, but is pursuing additional supply contracts valued at 5.8 GW.

To be sure, this is slightly riskier than your typical utility stock. The company has high levels of debt-to-equity, and as a result, must pay fairly high yields on the bonds that it issues. For the company to keep securing new contracts, TerraForm will need to keep borrowing money.

The key catalyst for shares to rebound back to that IPO price: the ability to negotiate more favorable lending terms, perhaps by consolidating all of its borrowings with a major financial institution. The company is expected to report Q3 results in late October, at which time investors will have a fresh look at the company’s capital structure and growth plans.

2.  Fogo De Chao (Nasdaq: FOGO)
This operator of Brazil-themed steakhouses (known as churrascarias) opened for trading at $ 26 in mid-June, but has recently slipped below $ 17. Don’t blame management: Fogo de Chao exceed quarterly profits forecasts by 14% in its first quarter as a public company and forward-looking earnings estimates have moved slightly higher since then.

This is a fairly unique business model. While other restaurants typically employ a large kitchen staff, and spend more than 30% of revenue on labor, Fogo de Chao’s limited menu is produced by just a few cooks that serve helpings of meat right at the table. As a result, the company’s labor costs are around 21% of revenue. Each of the company’s restaurants generates an average of around $ 8 million in revenue and around $ 2.5 million in operating profits.

To be sure, this company is built for a strong economy. Its all-you can-eat dinners are priced around $ 60. That’s a notch below traditional steak houses (when side dishes are accounted for), but more than the typical middle class dining option. There are currently nearly 40 Fogo de Chao’s in operation, 26 of them in the United States. Management aims to eventually operate 100 restaurants in the U.S., with a smaller number of restaurants based in other countries.

Here’s the catalyst: beef prices remain at historically high levels thanks to smaller-than-usual herds. But ranchers are now expanding their herds, and beef prices are expected to steadily fall over the next few years. That should provide a tailwind, and help profits grow from around $ 1 a share in 2016 to around $ 1.20 a share in 2017, and $ 1.40 a share in 2018. In that context, shares appear nicely priced.

3.  Etsy (Nasdaq: ETSY)
Although this highly-anticipated IPO is trading only modestly below its $ 16 offering price, it has fallen by more than half from its 52-week high. Back in late May, I explained the reasons behind the sharp pullback, and what I wrote then still stands. In short, newly-public cash-rich tech firms such as Etsy tend to spend a lot of money to capture their market opportunity as quickly as possible. That means that Etsy won’t likely show decent profits for at least several years.

But Etsy has created a dynamic and loyal marketplace of craft-oriented buyers and sellers, and management simply needs to deliver on planned growth forecasts. I’m expecting a deeper discussion of the company’s current growth initiatives when Q3 results are delivered in late October.

Risks To Consider: Newly-public companies are subject to lock-up expirations (180 days after the IPO) so share price choppiness should be expected before these stocks finally find their footing. (Such expirations are usually less troublesome when shares languish below the offering price as insiders have a lesser incentive to book profits).

Action To Take: These three stocks have drifted out of favor, in large part due to a lack of an established shareholder base. With each passing quarter, look for them to gain a stronger following as mutual fund managers begin to add them as core portfolio holdings. TerraForm Global appears to be the deepest bargain in the group, sporting projected dividend yields above 10%.

Editor’s Note: My colleague Andy Obermueller devotes his time to identifying game-changing trends and the companies that should benefit from them. This has led readers to investments that went on to gain triple-digits.

Recently, Andy has found 10 companies that are poised to make big gains in the coming months, thanks to their relationship with one huge tech stock. Find out more here…


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