I spent part of the morning with the management team at Hess Midstream Partners, a Master Limited Partnership (MLPs) that had an impressive debut at the NYSE today, opening at $25.50 after pricing $14.78 million shares at $23, way above price talk of $12 million shares at $19-$21.
The management team was all smiles, and with good reason. Floating an IPO, for all the planning that goes into it, is largely a matter of timing. Timing on the state of the IPO market, on the state of the stock market, and on the desirability of the product you are offering, which is often dependent on how hot your sector is.
The timing for Hess could not have been better:
1) The desirability of the product: Hess is a desirable yield play. An initial yield of 6 percent, one which is growing. That will immediately attract a lot of large institutions.
In addition, the oil market is in at least a short-term uptrend. Crude has done a perfect U-turn in the last month, going from $52 to $46 and back to $52. That has lifted oil stocks, including the Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP), a basket of MLPs, which is up about 3 percent in the last two weeks.
Pay no attention to the nonsense talk that MLPs are just toll keepers for oil and gas moving through their systems and are not sensitive to the price of oil. The Alerian MLP ETF fell apart when oil fell apart (beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014) right along with the rest of the energy sector.
2) The state of the IPO market: the IPO market has had several successful IPOs recently, including Snap, and recent IPOs have outperformed the market. The Renaissance Capital IPO ETF (IPO), a basket of the 60 most recent IPOs, is up about 11 percent this year, nearly twice the gain of the S&P 500. The dearth of recent IPOs has created demand for quality products, and there has been a particularly dearth of energy IPOs and MLPs.
3) The state of the stock market. Leon Cooperman's comment on the markets on CNBC on Wednesday reflects the sentiment of the majority of traders: "Conditions that would bring a significant market decline are not present."
Sure, there's plenty of debate about growth prospects and the probability that all or part of the Trump Agenda will be enacted, but the S&P is less than two percent from its historic high.
Bottom line: current market conditions are favorable for IPOs. I said a month ago that there would be a week in April when we will suddenly have seven or eight IPOs in a single week. This week we will likely have six.
I'm sticking by my prediction.