More technology companies went public this year despite a world economy still trying to find its footing, and that is a good sign the pace of tech initial public offerings might accelerate in 2010.
Ten tech companies have gone public so far this year, raising $3.8 billion. In 2008, there were three offerings that raised $749.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Tech deals account for the biggest number of IPOs so far this year and are second only to finance deals in value.
We've been expecting an uptick in technology because it has really been underrepresented in the market over the last few years, said Paul Bard, a research analyst at Connecticut-based Renaissance Capital.
There could be 40 to 50 tech IPOs next year, raising $4 or $5 billion, Bard said.
Tech IPOs did well in 2007, but nearly shut down when financial markets collapsed last year. Getting more small, high-growth tech companies into the IPO mix would be a major engine for jobs and a boon for investors, analysts said.
If they're done right, tech IPOs historically have had the greatest increase in revenues and profits of all IPOs, said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique.
Three technology companies filed for IPOs this week.
Netherlands-based Sensata Technologies Holding B.V. on Wednesday filed an offering worth up to $500 million. The firm, whose customers include BMW, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd HWT.UL and Samsung, makes sensors and other industrial technology.
Chipmaker Telegent Systems Inc filed for a deal worth as much as $250 million, and software maker RedPrairie Holding Inc said it would try to raise $172.5 million in its IPO.
There is an enormous amount of capital on the sidelines right now, in mutual funds and hedge funds, looking to make high-return investments as they would find in technology IPOs, said America's Growth Capital Chief Executive Ben Howe.
Howe warned that investors have become more cautious and companies without strong balance sheets could meet a lukewarm response. A good idea used to be enough for a tech company to go public, he said, but the financial crisis has changed that.
Sensata, which filed for the largest IPO this week, posted revenues of $796.9 million in the nine months ended September 30, down 31 percent from $1.2 billion a year ago. In the same period it narrowed its net loss to $41.6 million from $82.3 million.
Private equity firm Bain Capital bought the company from Texas Instruments Inc in 2006, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing did not disclose how many shares Bain or others plan to sell.
Lead underwriters for the deal include Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and Goldman, Sachs & Co G.S.
Cayman Islands-based Telegent, which designs microchips that enable television broadcasts on mobile devices, had revenues of $111.1 million in the six months ended September 30, up more than 66 percent from $66.9 million a year ago.
The firm posted net income of $39.4 million in the same period, up more than 51 percent from $26 million a year ago.
Telegent is backed by venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates, Walden International, and Index Ventures. Its underwriters are led by Goldman, Sachs & Co and JPMorgan.
Wisconsin-based software maker RedPrairie Holding Inc posted revenues of $193.9 million in the nine months ended September 30, down 12.4 percent from $221.2 million a year ago. The firm posted a net profit of $12.4 million in the same period, up 22.3 percent from $10.2 million a year ago.
The largest tech IPOs so far this year have been Verisk Analytics Inc, which raised $2.16 billion in October; Emdeon Inc, which raised $422.5 million in August; and Fortinet Inc, which last week raised $179.7 million.
Bard said that as the market for tech IPOs improves there may be a shift from large, well-established private equity-backed companies to smaller, venture-backed IPOs. The smaller deals will be riskier but could have more growth potential.
At first we saw the higher quality companies go public, said Bard. As the window continues to open you may start to motivate younger companies and ones that are not as established, he said.
(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Editing Bernard Orr)