Jumei Debut Shows Lingering Life For IPOs

| About: Jumei International (JMEI)

Market watchers are hailing the modest success of the new listing by online cosmetics seller Jumei International (NYSE: JMEI), which managed a respectable pricing and trading debut in New York despite waning sentiment towards Chinese Internet IPOs. I would agree with that view somewhat, since the company's shares could have easily fallen in their trading debut but instead ended up rising a solid 10 percent on their first trading day. But I'd also advise market watchers to check the bottom line, which saw Jumei slash the size of its original offering by nearly two-thirds due to weak demand.

I've said before that the biggest investors are probably withholding their funds from new Chinese IPOs to see how the market evolves, leaving smaller institutional and retail buyers to support the market. But even the smaller institutional investors could soon start withholding their funds in anticipation of the upcoming mega-listings of e-commerce leaders Alibaba and JD.com, the former of which could raise anywhere from $1 billion to as much as $15 billion, according to market forecasts.

All that said, let's take a closer look at Jumei's IPO performance, as well as the post-debut performance for some other recently listed Chinese Internet stocks. Jumei had originally hoped to raise up to $600 million when it first announced plans for its New York listing a month ago (previous post). It ultimately raised far less, bringing in just $245 million. (English article)

On a more positive note, Jumei managed to price its shares quite strongly, at $22 per American Depositary Shares (ADS). That was even higher than its originally stated range of $19.50 to $21.50 per ADS, showing that a more limited pool of investors had confidence in the company's future growth prospects. The stock also jumped on its trading debut, and rose as much as 29 percent during the session before finishing its first day with the 10 percent gain.

I have little doubt that many buyers of the IPO shares were speculators rather than long-term holders, since 16 million ADSs traded hands on the first trading day - far larger than the 11 million ADSs Jumei sold. Still, the company is probably an attractive option since it's the leader in a specific e-commerce area with big growth potential, and could even become an eventual acquisition target. Accordingly, I would expect the stock to hold most of its gains and even rise a bit in the weeks ahead.

The performance looks relatively consistent with the recent IPOs by microblogging giant Weibo (Nasdaq: WB) and online travel agent Tuniu (Nasdaq: TOUR). Weibo had to sharply scale back its IPO size in April due to flagging investor demand, but its shares have performed reasonably well since then and are now up 16 percent from their offer price. Tuniu is also up a similar 13 percent. The picture is less rosy for security software maker Cheetah Mobile (NYSE: CMCM), the other company to list recently, whose shares are now down 3 percent from their original offer price.

So, what does all this mean for the next wave of listings, which is likely to include JD.com's (NASDAQ:JD) $1 billion-plus offering later this week? It probably means there's still some life left in the market, though it's probably still too early to say exactly how much life. I expect that JD will be able to price its offering in the middle of its range, and that its shares could also finish up by a modest 5-10 percent on their first trading day. But I still stand by my earliest assessment that the current IPO window is likely to close by the end of June, which should be just enough time for Alibaba to make its blockbuster offering.

Bottom line: Jumei's respectable IPO performance shows there's still some life in the market, though the biggest investors are probably reserving their funds for mega-offerings from Alibaba and JD.com.

Disclosure: No positions

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