Picture: 123RF/SERGEY BUZUEVSKIY
Picture: 123RF/SERGEY BUZUEVSKIY

We’re entering a busy IPO season and investors are curious which companies have the best chance of becoming market darlings.

Aston Martin and Knorr-Bremse sales are roaring ahead, and pot stocks are hot, so Canaccord Genuity expects Europe to see its share of cannabis listings. But let’s face it: this has not been the best year for European stock markets, which have been pummeled by concerns over trade, politics and growth.

European IPOs have raised about $37bn in 2018 so far, compared with about $44bn in the same period last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The fourth quarter is the last chance for companies to enter the market this year, before any unpleasant surprises materialise in 2019. This year’s best IPO success stories signal that tech is still king, while real-estate and financials are not having the best time.

Here’s a look at this year’s best and worst performers of European company IPOs above $250m:

The best

1. Adyen +195% (first trading day: June 13)

The fintech company has been the region’s top success story in 2018. After paring gains in September when some original backers sold their shares, the stock has resumed its spectacular advance.

But Bloomberg Intelligence’s David Ritter warns that although the company’s client list is “impressive,” its valuation is “hard to justify.” And Citigroup’s Josh Levin concurs, saying that while Adyen remains one of the best stories in the payments sector, he does not see much upside from current levels.

2. Sensirion +85% (first trading day: March 22)

The manufacturer of digital micro sensors and systems said on August 22 that IPO-related costs and a share programme for employees resulted in a net loss of 2-million Swiss francs (US$2m) in the first half. Sensirion expects a full-year adjusted Ebitda margin of as much as 16%.

3. Netcompany +48% (first trading day: June 7)

Morgan Stanley analysts said in September that their survey of chief information officers signaled the best demand for software in over a decade and highlighted Netcompany, the Danish IT solutions provider, as having “less demanding multiples.”

Deutsche Bank analyst Alex Tout said in an August note that the company’s full-year guidance was “slightly disappointing,” with an adjusted Ebitda margin seen at the low end of 24.5% to 27.5% range, and FX a negative drag on margins. Netcompany said that using freelancers to deliver growth in Denmark and Norway in addition to higher-than-expected growth in the UK, diluted margins expected for the full year.

4. Elkem +41% (first trading day: March 22)

Norway’s biggest IPO since 2010, Elkem is one of the world’s largest silicones suppliers. CEO Helge Aasen said in a September interview that the company was pushing to grow its top-line through capacity expansion and acquisitions. Aasen said Elkem was looking at possible brownfield expansion in China as the next big project.

5. Carel Industries +36% (first trading day: June 11)

The Padova, Italy-based designer and manufacturer of control solutions for humidification systems, offers a 29% return on equity and is trading at 26 times forward earnings. This compares with the industry average of about 17 times earnings.

The worst

1. Ceva Logistics -32% (first trading day: May 4)

The Baar, Switzerland-based transport and logistics services provider now had the tools to consider acquisitions to increase market share, and the firm was targeting growth in Asia and Europe, CEO Xavier Urbain said in an interview in July. In July’s second-quarter earnings, the company said there had been limited impact on volumes from tariffs thus far.

Deutsche Bank said in an August note that while European freight forwarders had more limited exposure to the China-US trade spat, management teams had signaled that this year’s peak season would not be as strong as last year’s. Credit Suisse on September 6 updated its forecasts for Ceva to reflect weakness in emerging market currencies, given significant exposure to Turkey and Brazil.

The stock has three buy and one neutral recommendation, according to analysts tracked by Bloomberg.

2. Metrovacesa -29% (first trading day: Feb. 6)

The Spanish real estate developer has slumped since its first day of trading in February, leading to a temporary share buyback plan in August. Metrovacesa was a symbol of Spain’s real estate bubble that burst in 2009. Now, there’s hope of a recovery for the century-old developer: low unemployment and a fifth year of economic recovery are spurring demand for housing, and the company has enough land to build about 37,500 homes across Spain.

3. DWS Group -27% (first trading day: March 23)

Deutsche Bank’s main asset-management arm said in July it would probably miss its target of bringing in 3% to 5% in net new money this year, after suffering €12.6bn of investor outflows in the first two quarters. Cisco Systems pulled about €5bn from DWS Group in recent quarters as it repatriated profits under the US tax reform agreed last year, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

4. Godewind -12% (first trading day: April 5)

The Hamburg-based property management company debuted in Frankfurt below its IPO price in April and the stock has since declined further. The stock has a 0.4% return on equity. The company reported a loss of €5.5m for the first half.

5. Amigo Holdings -10% (first trading day: June 29)

The London-listed company, which offers unsecured guarantor loans, is eligible for potential inclusion in the FTSE 250, the index provider said in early September. Amigo said first-quarter revenue rose 47% from the previous year, and its impairment charge was slightly better than previous guidance.

Numis analysts said the impairment as well as IPO-related expenses ate into the company’s after-tax profit in the first quarter, but that the firm continued to show “strong” loan-book growth. RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Noble attributed the stock’s decline partly to the resignation of the founder, James Benamor, as a non-executive director from the board, but said the financial appeal of the business remained the same.

The stock has four buy ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg