Chinese IPOs Facing Some Serious Headwinds

by: Trent Tillman

How quickly the winds change in the IPO market. Only a couple of weeks ago, Chinese technology and internet stocks were all the rage, heading into last week's much anticipated Renren IPO. Often described as the “Facebook” of China, Renren (NYSE:RENN) debuted on the NYSE last with a solid, but unspectacular, performance (up 28.6% on the day). This was somewhat of a disappointment when compared to many of the hot Chinese IPOs in the last 12 months (QIHU up 134% on day one, YOKU up 161%, SFUN up 72%, DANG up 86%, and CCIH up 95%).

With the luxury of hindsight, we can now view this as the turning point, from a strong backwind to an increasing headwind. The day after Renren debuted, NetQin Mobile (NQ) had their IPO debut, with an offering described as multiple times over subscribed, and a pricing of $11.50, the high end of the anticipated range. NQ closed the day down 19% (the biggest day one loss of the 2011 IPO year). The stock closed Tuesday at $7.66. Meanwhile RENN has been in a free fall since last week, and actually broke their IPO priced of $14.00 yesterday morning. Of the top performers listed above, all but SFUN (down 45% from IPO price) are currently still trading above their IPO prices. However, YOKU is the only one of the group that is currently trading above its day one close.

All of this brings us to this week's offerings. Three Chinese IPOs were expected to price this week, (NASDAQ:DATE), China Zenix Auto (NYSE:ZX) and Phoenix New Media (NYSE:FENG). is the leading online dating platform in China, and was reportedly multiple times oversubscribed, despite some increasing concern with Chinese IPOs. While there were some rumors yesterday that the DATE IPO was cancelled, it actually was priced at $11.00, the midpoint of the range.

After opening flat, the stock was below issue in midday trading. China Zenix Auto, the largest commercial vehicle wheel manufacturer in China, announced yesterday that the price range of its offering has been cut to $6.00-8.00 from $9.50-11.50. Phoenix New Media was expected last night, and while we will have to wait and see any new developments, we would not be at all surprised to see an delays or reduced term.

Anyone who invests in Chinese IPOs - or Chinese ADSs, in general, for that matter - knows that this current shift in sentiment is all too common. Often it is related to some sort of policy shift in China, concerns of slowing growth, and/or concerns of a bubble. Whatever the current reason (most likely the fact that current valuations were getting well ahead of themselves), the current tide has shifted, and the prudent investor will sit on the sidelines until the winds change. And they will.

Disclosure: I am long RENN.