Two high-profile initial public offerings seem to indicate a waning of investor wariness following the much-maligned Facebook IPO. Kayak Software and Palo Alto Networks were able to price their shares above proposed ranges and enjoy healthy bumps in share prices in their market debuts on Friday.
As of early afternoon Eastern Time Friday, Palo Alto shares (PANW) rose more than 34% to $56.39 and Kayak (KYAK) climbed 30% to $33.8928, according to Bloomberg. The performance indicates that investors are continuing to look favorably on the tech industry after the IPO of ServiceNow in June. That software maker’s stock rose 37% on its first day.
Wall Street Worries Put to Rest
Wall Street worried that investors would be overly cautious with tech IPOs because of Facebook’s tainted public offering. Allegations that large investors got more information from the lead underwriters than smaller investors sparked lawsuits and drew the attention of federal securities investigators. Facebook stock has yet to recover, having lost almost a quarter of its value since the IPO in May.
Palo Alto and Kayak are very different businesses. Palo Alto is in the hot security market, selling firewalls that protect corporate networks against Internet-carried malware. Kayak is an aggregation site for booking airlines and hotels in the highly competitive online travel business. Kayak had delayed its IPO following Facebook’s troubles. Morgan Stanley, the investment bank that led the social network’s debut, led the IPOs for Kayak and Palo Alto.
The Differences in Companies
Beyond having the same lead underwriter, the performance of the three companies heading into the IPOs was quite different. In filings with the Securities Exchange Commission, Facebook showed slowing revenue and acknowledged it hadn’t figured out how to build a strong advertising business on mobile devices. And its IPO was massive, valuing the company in the neighborhood of $100 billion.
Kayak and Palo Alto are much smaller bets with clearer prospects.
Kayak revenue was up 39% year-to-year for the first quarter that ended in March, while Palo Alto’s revenue more than doubled in the nine months ending April 30, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kayak has been profitable on a full-year basis for several years, while Palo Alto has yet to be profitable for a full fiscal year.
Investors Willing to Take Risks
Both companies face stiff competition, though. Kayak is up against Google, which owns the airfare engine software Kayak uses. And it is also battling smaller upstarts like Hipmunk. Google acquired the software last year in the purchase of ITA Software.
Palo Alto competes against larger players including Cisco and Juniper Networks.
Nevertheless, investors seem willing to take the risk, which means confidence in the tech sector is building once again. That could lead to more tech IPOs in the months to come.