Smart Technologies Set for Big IPO

SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system
SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system

Smart Technologieshas been around for 23 years, but after quietly growing its business, it's about to become a household name with the third biggest global IPOof 2010—and the largest in the US.

The company's main product is an interactive whiteboard—more than 1.5 million have been installed worldwide.

The units can cost as much as $10,000 and are mainly used in classrooms. They are also found in corporate boardrooms and locker rooms of professional sports teams, for instance.

The company's road show is nearing completion, and it could price as early as Wednesday evening. It will trade as SMT on the NASDAQ and the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The expectation is that at least 35 million shares will be sold at a range of $16 to $18. If you include the potential over-allotment, it could raise more than $730 million.

The question is: Can the retail investor get in?

"A retail investor can get involved but, I would say, let the stock trade for 6 to 8 weeks, let it develop a new price pattern or a base," said Scott Redler, chief strategic officer for

"Let the buyers and sellers equal out from the deal from the syndicate. When you see the price start to accelerate through a viable pivot point you get involved. Let the company actually prove itself."

Redler says Tesla's recent IPO is a perfect example of the dangers of trying to invest when not involved with the initial offering.

"Look at Tesla Motors, which was supposed to be the best IPO and most anticipated. It opened at $18 to $19, and it ran to $31 in two days," said Redler. "Three days later it was back at 18. You need to be very careful about how the stock acts in the first few days.

"If you are looking to be involved and you need to be involved in the first few days, make sure you have a stop-loss, because those that buy and chase the excitement of a new issue sometimes get in trouble holding the bag."

Of the possible $730 million, a net of $135 million will go to the company and $59 million will go toward paying down debt.

It should be a good payday for British private equity firm Apax Partners and Intel , because both are backers of the company.

As for the product itself, part of the appeal is that these whiteboards are replacing chalk boards all over the world. And demand is growing, despite an uneven economy and struggling municipal budgets.

"It (demand) is a lot greater than it was two years ago, I think, because the resources are there, the success stories are there," said Lindsay Angelo Syed, who works for Tequipment which is the largest re-seller in the US for Smart Technologies.

"Once a school catches on as to what this equipment can do in their classroom—they see test scores increasing," Syed added, "they see student motivation levels increasing. Those kinds of things with data and assessment are driving sales for this product."

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