A Review of IPO Activity, Pricing and Allocations

Jay R. Ritter, Ivo Welch
2002 Social Science Research Network  
for comments, and Kenneth French for supplying factor returns. The authors maintain a more extensive bibliography of IPO-related work at http://www.iporesources.org. This website further contains links to many IPO-related sites and some reasonably up-to-date information on aggregate IPO activity and IPO working papers. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Bureau of Economic Research. ABSTRACT We review the theory and evidence on IPO
more » ... ty: why firms go public, why they reward first-day investors with considerable underpricing, and how IPOs perform in the long run. Our perspective on the literature is three-fold: First, we believe that many IPO phenomena are not stationary. Second, we believe research into share allocation issues is the most promising area of research in IPOs at the moment. Third, we argue that asymmetric information is not the primary driver of many IPO phenomena. Instead, we believe future progress in the literature will come from non-rational and agency conflict explanations. We describe some promising such alternatives. From 1980 to 2001, the number of companies going public in the United States exceeded one per business day. The number of initial public offerings (IPOs) has varied from year to year, however, with some years seeing fewer than 100 IPOs, and others seeing more than 400. These IPOs raised $488 billion (in 2001 dollars) in gross proceeds, an average of $78 million per deal. At the end of the first day of trading, their shares traded on average at 18.8 percent above the price at which the company sold them. For an investor buying shares at the first-day closing price and holding them for three years, IPOs returned 22.6 percent. Still, over three years, the average IPO underperformed the CRSP value-weighted market index by 23.4 percent and underperformed seasoned companies with the same market capitalization and book-to-market ratio by 5.1 percent. In a nutshell, these numbers summarize the patterns in issuing activity, underpricing, and long-run underperformance, which have been the focus of a large theoretical and empirical literature. We survey this literature, focusing on recent papers. Space constraints force us to take a U.S.-centric point of view and to omit a description of the institutional aspects of going public. The interested reader can consult Jenkinson and Ljunqvist (2001), Ellis, Michaely and O
doi:10.2139/ssrn.296393 fatcat:gsrzrucmhvb55kd3vrrb25ix6u