By Ben Kolada
Taking advantage of the emerging market for mobile advertising, platform vendor Millennial Media (NYSE:MM) leapt onto the public stage Thursday, creating nearly $2bn in market value in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The company priced its 10.2 million shares at $13 each – the high end of its proposed range. Shares traded at about twice that level in early afternoon. Millennial Media is trading under the symbol MM. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Barclays led the offering, while Allen & Company and Stifel Nicolaus Weisel served as co-managers.
Millennial Media, which has nearly 75 million shares outstanding, currently garners a market cap of $1.9bn. That values the company at 18 times trailing sales, in the ballpark of where we estimate Quattro Wireless was valued in its sale to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but about half the valuation we believe AdMob received from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Those two companies are Millennial’s primary rivals, although Millennial stakes its claim as the largest independent mobile ad platform provider.
Interest in advertising technology has been building throughout both the equity and M&A markets. Earlier this month, for instance, telco SingTel announced that it was acquiring Amobee for $321m. (We estimate the startup, which provides mobile ad campaign management software, garnered roughly 9x trailing sales in its purchase by the Singapore telco giant.) Meanwhile, the Adtech pipeline is far from dry, even after a recent slew of big-ticket exits. Earlier this month, advertising intelligence firm Exponential Interactive filed its paperwork to go public. The company, which plans to trade under the symbol EXPN, increased revenue 35% last year to $169m.