High-tech trumped rock e_SSLqn' roll Friday as two high-profile technology initial public offerings launched successfully, but guitar maker Fender Musical Instruments Corp. yanked its IPO at the last minute.
Shares of data security provider Palo Alto Networks Inc. soared some 27% to close at $53.50 Friday after the company priced 6 million shares at $42 apiece. That was $2 above the top of the expected range, which had already been revised upward from its original range of $34 to $37.
Online travel price comparison company Kayak Software Corp. posted similar success, with its shares up around 29% to close at $33.38 Friday. The company priced 3.5 million shares at $26 apiece, above their expected range of $23 to $25.
The loser Friday was Fender and its private equity backer, Weston Presidio. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company, which filed to go public in March, had planned to offer 10.7 million shares in the range of $13 to $15 apiece, and was expected to begin trading Friday. Instead, Fender late Thursday withdrew its plans, citing poor market conditions.
Fender also was affected by its status as a mature company, and consumer demand for its products tends to fall off when the economy is unhealthy, said IPO analyst Tom Taulli.
Weston Presidio had planned to sell 3.57 million shares in the offering, paring its ownership to 17.7% from 42.9%. The San Francisco private equity firm paid an undisclosed sum for its stake in late 2001.
The backers of Palo Alto Networks, on the other hand, were sure to be pleased Friday.
The 7-year-old company has raised roughly $65 million in venture capital, mostly from its two largest backers: Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital. Each firm will own 20.7% of the company after the offering; their stakes were worth about $579 million each at Palo Alto's IPO price.
Norwalk, Conn.-based Kayak provided Sequoia Capital with a doubleheader; the firm owns 16.1% of Kayak, assuming exercise of the overallotment option. That stake was worth $163.5 million at the IPO price. Kayak's largest shareholder, General Catalyst Partners, holds a stake worth $271.3 million.
The Fender IPO withdrawal followed two others earlier in the week: beverage carbonation service provider NuCO2 Inc., which is backed by private equity firm Aurora Capital Group, and carbon filter producer Norit NV.
But technology companies continue to push toward public debuts with confidence.
On Friday, for example, cloud-based marketing software provider Eloqua Corp. set a price range of $9.50 to $11.50 per share for its IPO. Prospects for the Vienna, Va.-based company, which posted $85 million in revenue for the 12 months ended June 30, have been buoyed by a recent spate of M&A in the social enterprise marketing realm. Salesforce.com Inc., Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp. have been busily striking acquisitions in this area.