by Michael Kanellos
The green industry is right one out of every three times.
Molycorp (MCP), which wants to mine rare earth elements for use in car batteries and electronics from a big pit in southern California, held an IPO Thursday. The company said earlier in the month that it planned to sell 28 million shares for $15 to $17 a share. It dropped the price to $13.25 a share in the IPO and on the first day of public trading the stock is hovering between $12 and $13.
In other words, it is starting life as a tadpole -- that is, underwater.
That's becoming, unfortunately, a pattern in the industry. A123 Systems (AONE) held an IPO to great fanfare (and the occasional note of skepticism) last year. The stock went out at $13.50. It rose sharply but then dropped to the $10 to $11 range. Suddenly, everyone was a critic. Codexis (NASDAQ:CDXS), the biofuel and green chemistry specialist, sold 6 million shares for $13 a share earlier this year. The stock now goes for $9 a share. In 2008, desalination expert Energy Recovery went out at $8. It now sells for $4. Energy Recovery (NASDAQ:ERII) went public before the crash, so the price decline can be attributed to a large extent to the recession, but a drop is a drop.
The only companies that seem to be holding up in the recent IPO crop seem to be Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), which is above the $17 IPO price at $20+ per share, and Jinko Solar (NYSE:JKS), which went out at $11 and now sells for $14.79 a share. That makes two out of six in the plus category at the moment. Analysts heavily criticized the viability of both Tesla and Jinko.
But green did better in happier times. The solar triad -- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), SunPower (SPWRA) and Suntech (NYSE:STP)-- all did well in their 2005 and 2006 IPOs. The three companies also were not funded by traditional Silicon Valley VCs.