Initial public offerings are like a big, exclusive party that all investors are invited to but only a few can actually attend.
Expect more of the same from Alibaba, the hotly anticipated tech IPO—the largest ever—that already is fully subscribed but likely to be mostly out of the reach for most of the retail crowd, at least initially.
"It's totally pathetic," said Michael Cohn, chief market strategist at Atlantis Asset Management. "The public's just not allowed to participate. ...The large fund people that manage money for, just say, the Fidelitys, the Vanguards of the world and the hedge funds, are the ones that get the largest allocation."
Cohn figures the retail side that he represents may be able to get a 25 percent to 30 percent fill on their orders, but that probably will be the limit.
"The question is, do you really want any?" he said. "This is so big, it's hard to wrap your head around it."