Dicey days in IPO market as some take off, others fall flat

Pockets of softness in the market for initial public offerings (IPOs) is the order of the day.

Earlier, Travelport Worldwide, a travel e-commerce company, priced 30 million shares at $16, the high end of the $14–$16 price talk. CONE Midstream Partners, a master limited partnership (MLP) formed by Consol Energy and Noble Energy, priced 17.5 million shares at $22, above the $19–$21 price talk. This one pays a 4.25 percent dividend.

On the other hand, oil and gas firm Vantage Energy postponed its IPO. Why?

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Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Investors most likely did not want to pay the $24–$27 they were asking per share, and the company didn't want to drop the price far enough to spur interest. Also, timing may have played a part: Vantage operates in the Marcellus Shale, and many of those stocks have traded down recently as oil prices have dropped.

So why did this deal not work, but the other energy play, CONE Midstream? That not only priced, but above the range. It's likely because CONE is an MLP and pays a healthy 4.25 percent dividend; Vantage does not.

Here's what can be said about the state of the IPO market:

1) Investors are price-conscious and will not hesitate to push back, as happened with Citizens Financial yesterday, which was forced to lower its IPO price to $21.50 from a $23$25 range;

2) on the other extreme, investors are willing to pay up big for companies with high-growth potential and cash. Good recent examples are CyberArk, Mobileye, El Pollo Loco, GoPro, and Alibaba.

3) MLPs are still hot, and with good reason. They offer high dividends, and are perceived to be relative stable and transparent while offering growth potential. Three filed yesterday: Hess Midstream, Mammoth Energy and Exmar Energy Partners.

4) Certain tech-related long shot companies have done well. There aren't many, but one example is ReWalk Robotics, which went public a little over a week ago at $12 and is now trading at $30.

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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