11 Big IPOs to Watch

Stripe, Databricks, and Instacart are among the firms expected to revive the lackluster IPO market.

Morningstar, Inc. 24 August, 2023 | 4:39AM
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With stocks posting big rebounds from the bear market and recession fears fading, appetite seems to be growing for newly minted stocks. For investors, that could mean some big-name companies making initial public offerings.

Already this year, there has been strong demand for the restaurant chain Cava Group CAVA and the consumer-technology firm Oddity Tech ODD. Cava shares have more than doubled from their IPO price, while Oddity stock is up roughly 50%.

“Because of the strength of the returns that we’ve seen this year, more and more deals are exploring going public, either in the fall or 2024,” says Renaissance Capital senior IPO strategist Matthew Kennedy.

This year has seen a handful of other companies make strong starts in the public market, including solar tracking company NEXTracker NXT, consumer healthcare company Kenvue KVUE, and thrift retailer Savers Value Village SVV. Kenvue, created in 2022 as a spinoff of Johnson & Johnson JNJ, notably had the market’s largest IPO since Rivian Automotive RIVN in November 2021.

Just this week, Vietnamese electric car startup VinFast Auto VFS went public via a special purpose acquisition company and saw its share prices temporarily more than triple, with the market valuing it higher than Ford Motor F.

Despite this nascent revival, IPOs may not be greeted with the kind of frenzied demand for IPOs and SPACs seen in 2021. Before the bear market, investors were much more willing to pile into money-losing companies in search of the next growth-stock winner. In the current environment, many investors are focusing on larger, more established cash-generating names.

“Because venture capital-backed IPOs have traditionally been money-losing companies, it’s going to be a challenging start to an IPO market reopening until some momentum can build,” says Kyle Stanford, lead venture capital research analyst at PitchBook, Morningstar’s private market data and analysis arm. “There is a large backlog of companies that should be awaiting an IPO, but I don’t think they will rush through the door because there is still so much uncertainty in the market.”

Improved Backdrop for IPOs

IPOs can present the opportunity to buy shares in some of the most exciting growth companies. They have a place in the portfolios of investors who want to supplement seasoned equities with new stocks. However, they come with the risk of being untested in public markets, where performance standards differ significantly from those of private companies. Additionally, they all too often prove overpriced and end up being dead money (at best) for years.

In 2020 and 2021, the IPO market attracted hordes of investors with the debuts of technology startups valued over $1 billion (also known as “unicorns”) and hype around special purpose acquisition companies like WeWork WE. But as the bear market took hold in 2022, names like the car-sharing company Turo canceled or delayed their IPOs. Standford says that if they had gone public, they could have ended up with at most half of the funding they needed.

Central to the improved backdrop for IPOs is the outlook for the economy and Federal Reserve policy. With investors expecting the Fed will wind down its interest rate increases, volatility in the stock market has abated, which makes for a friendlier environment in which to bring new companies public. At the same time, widespread expectations of a recession have faded. “We’ve made quite a bit of progress on that front as the recession gets pushed further and further back,” says iCapital chief investment strategist Anastasia Amoroso.

Strong returns in the stock market—which is up 17.3% as measured by the Morningstar US Market Index since the start of the year—is also a critical piece of the puzzle.

“The bottom line is a lot of the macro voices that are needed for the IPO market are coming into the right place, and a very elevated backlog of companies are waiting to go public,” explains Amoroso.

Biotech, Consumer, and Technology IPOs

Kennedy says he expects more IPO activity from companies in the biotech, consumer goods, and restaurant industries. He adds that the market can see more defensive companies, companies with positive cash flow, and companies in industry-specific areas like semiconductor manufacturers—such as Arm, whose processors have landed in many Apple AAPL products over the years. Public semiconductor firms have benefited from investor enthusiasm for artificial intelligence, which is trained using their chips. Companies such as Palantir Technologies PLTR and Nvidia NVDA (which licenses its technology to Arm) were among the firms that performed best during the second quarter of this year.

On the other hand, PitchBook senior research analyst Jonathan Geurkink does not expect many private companies in the mobility technology sector—including ones in vehicle manufacturing, electrification, and transportation logistics—to go public soon. Sentiment in that industry has suffered along with the poor performance of automobile stocks, thanks to challenges from inflation and supply chain issues.

Highlighted IPOs to Watch

Looking toward the horizon, private equity analysts at PitchBook highlighted 11 companies that are likely to file IPOs in the coming year.

A table that shows the company name, industry, founding year, latest revenue, latest valuation, and latest capital raised of the companies Stripe, Instacart, Databricks, Northvolt, Flexport, Klarna, Everly Health, HeartFlow, Biofourmis, Headspace, and Quantum Health as of Aug. 11, 2023.

Stripe

  • Year Founded: 2009
  • Latest Known Valuation: $50 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $9.1 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $15.8 billion

Stripe is a financial infrastructure developer whose platform allows users to accept payments and manage revenue. OpenAI notably announced a collaboration with the company in March to use its platform to monetize its products, including ChatGPT. In its most recent round of funding on Aug. 7, the platform raised $6.9 billion from firms which include Goldman Sachs Special Situations Group and Sixth Street Partners.

Stripe is “anticipated to exit into the public markets in one of the largest fintech public listings,” says PitchBook senior equity analyst Rudy Yang. The firm filed its intention to go public with the SEC in July 2021. Yang says that “the company considered a public listing to allow nearly expired restricted stock units to be vested for its longstanding employees” in the first quarter of 2023, but the timing of the listing remains uncertain due to volatile market conditions. “It is also possible Stripe may pursue a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO if additional funding is not being sought out,” he adds.

Instacart

  • Year Founded: 2012
  • Latest Known Valuation: $45 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $2.7 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $2.5 billion

Instacart has one of the highest profiles among the anticipated IPOs, bolstered by the company’s large presence across North America and its partnerships with over 600 retail businesses, including big names such as Costco Wholesale COST, Kroger KR, and Walmart WMT.

The grocery delivery service generates revenue through delivery fees, membership fees, in-app advertising, and commissions from partners. Its recent growth resulted from increased demand for its services during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, as well as its expansion to deliver products from non-grocery retailers like Best Buy BBY and Sephora. In 2022, Instacart reported $2.5 billion in revenue, up 38.9% from the previous year.

While the company has yet to turn a profit, PitchBook senior research analyst Alex Frederick highlights its adjusted EBITDA of $100 million in the fourth quarter of 2022 and its efforts to grow higher-margin segments such as advertising.

Instacart filed for an IPO in May 2022, but Frederick says the grocery delivery service has reportedly postponed these plans. “The company’s valuation has fluctuated, reaching $39 billion in 2021 before facing increased competition from companies like Amazon.com AMZN, Walmart, DoorDash DASH, and Uber UBER,” he explains. “The postponement may indicate a reevaluation of its growth prospects and valuation in the changing market landscape.”

Databricks

  • Year Founded: 2013
  • Latest Known Valuation: $38 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $3.5 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $1 billion

Databricks offers tools for engineering and storing data. The company is notably training its own generative-AI-utilizing software called Dolly, which it compares to ChatGPT. PitchBook senior analyst Brendan Burke says Databricks is surpassing its publicly traded peer Snowflake SNOW in AI capabilities, and that it “will be valued more highly than relational database incumbents based on the growth opportunities of data lake architecture for streaming data.”

Burke says, “Management has high technical expertise capable of generating product-led growth and has increased its public-company experience.” He notes that chief financial officer Dave Conte previously took Splunk SPLK public in the same role, “which suggests Databricks’ accounts will be ready for scrutiny by public markets.” The company also hired the general counsel from DocuSign DOCU during the second quarter of 2022.

“Databricks has achieved the necessary scale and growth to realize high performance in public markets,” Burke says, pointing to the company’s 2022 revenue of $1 billion with 60% revenue growth. Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi recently said the firm reduced its internal valuation by 10%, which suggests it’s “staying relatively resilient,” according to Burke.

Northvolt

  • Year Founded: 2016
  • Latest Known Valuation: $11.8 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $11.8 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $159 million

Northvolt is a Sweden-based company that develops lithium-ion batteries, which are predominately used to produce portable consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

The firm focuses on manufacturing eco-friendly products with low carbon footprints. PitchBook senior research analyst John MacDonagh says its battery recycling capabilities would enable the company to supplement its need for raw materials while also meeting the European Union’s new sustainability-focused regulation for battery producers.

“Demand for Li-ion batteries is very high, and by targeting a combination of applications, Northvolt is well-positioned to represent a key European market participant in the Li-ion space,” MacDonagh says. He adds that the firm is building a battery plant in Germany, and the first delivery of cells produced there is expected in 2026.

Northvolt reportedly investigated a potential IPO in January, but MacDonagh says there has not been much discussion since the first quarter of the year.

Flexport

  • Year Founded: 2013
  • Latest Known Valuation: $8 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $2.5 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $5 billion

Flexport is a supply chain management company that develops a platform on which users can arrange goods for transportation and track inventory. The company boasts of moving $19 billion in merchandise across 112 countries in 2021. That year, it saw revenue growth of 156%, after revenue dropped to 50% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of global trade, according to data from PitchBook.

Geurkink highlights the company’s growth over the years: “The amount of money they’ve been able to raise [makes it seem] like they would be getting close to [an IPO].”

In its latest round of financing in October 2022, Flexport received a $200 million loan from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The company also received an undisclosed amount of funding in August 2022 from 13 firms. This came a few months after it raised $935 million in March from 18 firms, among them Softbank Group SFTBY and Shopify SHOP.

Klarna

  • Year Founded: 2005
  • Latest Known Valuation: $6.7 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $4.7 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $2.2 billion

The Swedish financial services platform Klarna is one of the big names among “buy now, pay later” service providers. In 2022, approximately 150 million consumers worldwide used the AI-powered platform to pay for items over four installments, with over 34 million of them in the United States.

Like Stripe, Klarna is expected to exit via IPO, according to Yang. He notes the company’s push to reach profitability this year as a sign, as well as its raising an undisclosed amount of funding from a deal with 13 firms on March 1. The company’s 18-year history may also drive investor demand for an exit.

“Furthermore, Klarna’s valuation cut from $45.6 billion to $6.7 billion brings its valuation closer to those seen in the public markets, which have level-set significantly from peak 2021 levels,” Yang says. “While this softens some of the IPO fears associated with a substantial markdown in the company’s valuation, timing continues to be ambiguous, considering the hushed appetite for public listings.”

Everly Health

  • Year Founded: 2015
  • Latest Known Valuation: $3.6 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $0.6 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $250 million

Everly is an integrated digital care platform that offers users at-home health testing services from medical professionals. It originally launched as the startup Everlywell, which is known for being the first to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its at-home COVID-19 test in March 2020. The startup acquired two healthcare companies a year later, merging into a single entity.

Everly “has a diversified service line and has raised over $600 million—both positive factors for a future public listing,” says PitchBook research analyst Aaron DeGagne. He describes it as “one of the largest unicorns in digital health.” In its most recent round of financing in May, the firm raised $173 million, putting its pre-money valuation close to $3.5 billion.

HeartFlow

  • Year Founded: 2010
  • Latest Known Valuation: $2.4 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $0.8 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $21.8 million

HeartFlow develops a platform that can scan coronary arteries and analyze the impact of blockages on blood flow, allowing medical professionals to diagnose and treat heart disease. In its latest funding deal in March, the company raised $215 million, which will be used to meet increasing product demand.

In July 2021, HeartFlow announced its intent to enter the public market under the ticker symbol “HFLO” through the special acquisition company Longview Acquisition. The deal would have provided the company with an estimated $400 million to grow capital and develop products. The two firms canceled the plan in February 2022 “as a result of current unfavorable market conditions.” But DeGagne says that “if the IPO window reopens, the company is likely to pursue a public listing.”

Biofourmis

  • Year Founded: 2015
  • Latest Known Valuation: $1.3 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $0.5 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: N/A

Biofourmis is a health analytics company that develops AI-integrated wearable devices to predict increased symptom intensity in advance of a serious health event. In its most recent deal from July 2022, the platform secured $320 million in funding to expand its virtual care offerings from a group of firms, including Intel Capital, General Atlantic, and CVS Health Ventures. This deal placed the company’s pre-money valuation at $1 billion.

Biofourmis CEO Kuldeep Singh Rajput said in 2019 that the company may seek an IPO in 2023, but it has yet to give an explicit update on this plan. DeGagne says it is “not surprising this hasn’t happened due to market conditions, but we have the company on our shortlist of IPO candidates for the year ahead.”

Headspace

  • Year Founded: 2010
  • Latest Known Valuation: $1 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $0.3 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $50 million

Headspace is a digital healthcare management platform that helps users learn to meditate and deal with stress. DeGagne says its traditional metrics make it a strong IPO candidate.

The company raised multiple VC rounds, having received funding from investing firms including Advance Venture Partners and Health Velocity Capital. During the past two years, the firm acquired three other digital health companies. Among these mergers, the virtual healthcare platform Ginger is the one that DeGagne says helped Headspace expand, with both companies now the subsidiaries of the $3 billion Headspace Health.

However, DeGagne notes that CEO Russell Glass told Behavioral Health Business that as long as Headspace still gains interest among private capital markets, the platform will not have to go public.

Quantum Health

  • Year Founded: 1999
  • Latest Known Valuation: $0.2 billion
  • Total Capital Raised to Date: $0.7 billion
  • Latest Known Revenue: $13.5 million

Quantum Health is a consumer healthcare services provider with the characteristic points of a company ready to file an IPO. DeGagne highlights the company’s positive EBITDA and strong equity backing. It received development capital from Great Hill Partners and Warburg Pincus, as well as term loans from firms such as UBS Financial Services and Jefferies Finance from a deal in November 2020.

The firm also has over two decades of history. “Still, Quantum has demonstrated patience, and it may not be in a rush to go public right when the IPO window reopens,” DeGagne says. “They can afford to wait for more valuation uncertainty.”

 

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar Rating
Apple Inc181.16 USD-0.75Rating
Ford Motor Co11.95 USD-1.57Rating
ODDITY Tech Ltd Class A Shares40.04 USD2.75
VinFast Auto Ltd5.18 USD2.37
WeWork Inc0.12 USD-7.69

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