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  • Renren's IPO: Friending US Investors

    This week will see one of the year's most anticipated IPOs as Renren, China's largest "real name" social network with 117 million users, goes public. As the first of the world's major social networks to attempt an IPO, it is poised to benefit from significant investor enthusiasm surrounding social networking. Additionally, following strong debuts by other recent Chinese internet IPOs like Youku.com (+366%) and Qihoo 360 (+95%), investors are clearly excited by the secular story of China's increasing internet penetration and the country's rapid forecasted online advertising growth. After raising its anticipated price range to $12-$14 from $9-$11 in a sign of strong demand, Renren now seeks to raise $690 million and will also receive a concurrent $110 million investment from Chinese internet company Alibaba and investment firms China Media Capital and CITIC. Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse are the bookrunners on the offering, which is on this week's IPO calendar. The stock is expected to price Tuesday and begin trading on the NYSE under the ticker "RENN" on Wednesday.

    History

    Renren was launched in 2005 by a US-educated Chinese entrepreneur as a site where college students could connect and communicate and has since followed a similar evolution to Facebook's, broadening its user base to include high school students and young professionals. It has also gradually increased the stickiness of its site by introducing online games, streaming music and other features and opening the platform to third-party apps, which now number 1,700. These efforts have helped Renren increase its registered user base from 33 million at the end of 2008 to 117 million today; over the same period, its active users have grown from 17 million to 31 million.

    Revenue

    Renren generated $77 million in revenue in 2010 (up 64% from 2009), the majority of which was split between advertising revenues and online gaming fees paid by users to buy virtual items. The company expects online advertising to increase as a percentage of revenue going forward, driven by continued growth in its user base and increased monetization. Revenue growth is also expected to be driven by its recently launched Groupon-like social commerce website Nuomi.com. Nuomi.com generated $1 million in revenue since its launch in mid-2010 and the company is investing heavily in it in an attempt to make it a significant contributor to overall revenue.

    Market/competition

    China currently has 457 million internet users, 38% of which engage in online social networking. Based on Renren's 117 million users, this implies a 48% market share. That said, only 31 million (26%) of Renren's users are currently active and many Chinese are members of multiple social networks. Other major social networks include Kaixin001 (which has 95 million registered users and is reportedly planning a US IPO) and 51.com. Renren also competes with Tencent's Qzone, which is larger but not considered a "real name" social network since users frequently use screen names. Competition is a key risk for Renren, particularly with Facebook reportedly considering entering China (likely in partnership with Baidu). Additionally, Renren's Nuomi.com competes with several other Chinese sites as well as Groupon, which recently launched in China.

    Other risks

    While Renren's growth over the last several years has been very impressive, its revenue fell sequentially in the two most recent quarters, which is a cause for concern. Although there is seasonality to the business, the trend may suggest that monetization of its user base is becoming more difficult. Perhaps more concerning is the relatively slow growth in the number of advertisers, which rose only 11% in 2010. With gaming revenue unlikely to be a large growth driver, the company is investing heavily in its social commerce site Nuomi.com, and this higher investment pushed Renren's operating margin negative in the March quarter. Nuomi.com has yet to gain significant traction and will continue to be a drag on margins for at least the remainder of 2011.

    Outlook

    Despite these concerns, we believe investors will be drawn to Renren because of the excitement surrounding the global social networking industry and anticipation for eventual IPOs from Facebook, Groupon and LinkedIn. Reported valuations for Facebook and Groupon have continued to increase rapidly, as have multiples being placed on recent online video portal IPO Youku.com ($6.2 billion enterprise value, 108x LTM sales) which we believe will put Renren's seemingly high proposed valuation ($5.4 billion market cap and an enterprise-value-to-LTM-sales multiple of 53x) into context. Ultimately, with investors seeking exposure to social networking companies and putting high valuations on Chinese internet leaders, we expect Renren to be a hot IPO. That said, further out the company will have to make good on its goal of rapid user growth and increased user monetization in order to support its multibillion valuation, or else risk disappointing investors with very high expectations.


    May 03 3:55 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Three more companies set IPO terms, six deals scheduled to price Thursday night
    Three companies recently filed terms for their upcoming IPOs: Chesapeake Lodging Trust (CHSP), which plans to invest in upscale hotel properties, Patriot Risk Management (PMG), which provides workers' compensation insurance and risk transfer solutions and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD), which develops drugs targeting therapeutic needs.

    Chesapeake, which has no operating history to date, previously filed to go public and was set to begin trading on Dec. 8, 2009, along with Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB). While Pebblebrook raised $350 million in its IPO, Chesapeake shelved its deal; its new terms trim the deal size by 40% (7.5 million shares at $20 instead of 12.5 million shares). The IPO is scheduled to price this Thursday, Jan. 21, along with five other companies: China Hydroelectric (CHC), Andatee Marine China Fuel (AMCF), Terreno Realty (TRNO), Symetra Financial (SYA) and Cellu Tissue Holdings (CLU).

    Patriot Risk Management (PMG), which also filed terms yesterday, plans to raise $187 million by offering 17 million shares at a price range of $10-$12. The insurance company had previously filed terms on Oct. 2, 2008, offering 15 million shares at the same price range; it removed these terms on Nov. 9, 2009, several months after it was acquired by Inter-Atlantic Financial, a SPAC that went public in October of 2007. Patriot plans to list on the NYSE during the week of Feb. 1.

    The third company to recently announce terms, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD), is also slated to price that week. Ironwood, which is based in Cambridge, MA, plans to raise $250 million by offering 16.7 million class A shares at a price range of $14-$16. The early stage company has yet to develop or commercialize any products; however, its pipeline includes one Phase 3 drug candidate (linaclotide), one Phase 1 pain drug and several preclinical programs.

    Recent filing activity and a full docket of upcoming deals indicate the IPO market is already poised for a healthy recovery in 2010.

    Disclosure: No positions
    Tags: CHC, CHSP, AMCF, SYA, CLU
    Jan 21 6:28 PM | Link | Comment!
  • IPO activity continues with five deals planned for the week of Dec. 14
    The following IPOs are expected to price this week:

    Cobalt International Energy (CIE), an oil E&P firm with deepwater prospects in the Gulf of Mexico and off West Africa, plans to raise $1 billion by offering 63 million shares at a price range of $15.00 to $17.00. At the mid-point of the proposed range, Cobalt will command a market value of $5.5 billion. Cobalt International Energy, which was founded in 2005, has not generated revenue to date and expects to begin commerical production in 2012. The Houston, TX-based company plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol CIE with Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan acting as the lead underwriters on the deal.

    Crimson Exploration (CXPO), another independent oil and gas E&P company that operates in East and South Texas, plans to raise $126 million by offering 18 million shares at a price range of $6.00 to $8.00. At the mid-point of the proposed range, Crimson will command a market value of $211 million. Crimson Exploration, which was founded in 1987, booked $121 million in sales over the last 12 months. The Houston, TX-based company is currently listed on the OTC Bulletin Board and plans to make the move to the NASDAQ under the symbol CXPO. Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse are the lead underwriters on the deal.

    Kraton Performance Polymers (KRA), the world's #1 producer of styrenic block copolymers backed by TPG/J.P. Morgan, plans to raise $175 million by offering 10.3 million shares at a price range of $16.00 to $18.00. At the mid-point of the proposed range, Kraton will command a market value of $504 million. Kraton, which was founded in 1955, booked $960 million in sales over the last 12 months. The Houston, TX-based company plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol KRA. Credit Suisse is the lead underwriter on the deal.

    National Beef (NBR), the fourth largest beef processor in the US, plans to raise $276 million by offering 17.3 million shares at a price range of $15.00 to $17.00. At the mid-point of the proposed range, National Beef will command a market value of $988 million. National Beef, which was founded in 1992, booked $5.7 billion in sales over the last 12 months. The Kansas City, MO-based company plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol NBP with BofA Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse acting as the lead underwriters on the deal.

    Team Health Holdings (TMH), which is a Blackstone-backed provider of outsourced emergency room physician staffing, plans to raise $300 million by offering 20 million shares at a price range of $14.00 to $16.00. At the mid-point of the proposed range, Team Health will command a market value of $899 million. Team Health Holdings, which was founded in 1979, booked $1.4 billion in sales over the last 12 months. The Knoxville, TN-based company plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol TMH. BofA Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Barclays Capital are the lead underwriters on the deal.

    Disclosure: No positions
    Tags: NBR
    Dec 14 10:58 AM | Link | Comment!
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