Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Dec. 15, 2014
Does Alibaba's Jack Ma have his eye on a Hollywood studio in 2016? Pictured: Ma during the Cross-Strait CEO Summit in Taipei, Taiwan, Dec. 15, 2014. Pichi Chuang/Reuters

Measured by either the amount of money involved or the number of deals done, the market for U.S.-listed initial public offerings had its biggest year in 2014 since 2000. One key driver was the IPO conducted in September by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.: The behemoth weighed in at about $25.0 billion in the database maintained by the financial-software company Dealogic PLC and at about $22.0 billion in the database maintained by the manager of IPO-focused exchange-traded funds Renaissance Capital LLC.

Bearing in mind the two IPO-industry watchers interpret the relevant data in different ways, they compare 2014 and 2000 as follows:

  • Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 16 last year, there were 288 IPOs with a dollar volume totaling $94.8 billion, according to Dealogic, based in New York. The comparable figures in 2000 were 432 IPOs and $104.6 billion, in that order.
  • From Jan. 1 and Dec. 17 last year, there were 273 IPOs with company proceeds totaling $84.9 billion, according to Renaissance Capital, headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. The comparable numbers in 2000 were 406 IPOs and $96.9 billion, respectively.

One difference between the Dealogic and the Renaissance Capital data universes centers on the fact the former counts all IPOs and the latter excludes closed-end funds and special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs.

Of course, these data are all so last year, and equity-market participants like to look not backward but forward. Renaissance Capital had this to say about that:

“Despite a handful of mostly small-capitalization IPOs that rose over 100 percent, investors hewed to strict valuation discipline, with 40 percent of IPOs pricing below the range. All this sets us up for a solid 2015 IPO market, as a healthy pipeline and still-positive US economic backdrop should support another year with more than 200 IPOs.”

U.S. IPO Activity, 2000-2014
The amount raised by companies with IPOs advanced to $84.9 billion in 2014 (as of Dec. 17) from $54.9 billion in 2013, Renaissance Capital reported. Meanwhile, the number of firms going public rose to 273 from 222 on the same basis. Renaissance Capital, Manager Of IPO-Focused ETFs