• Biggest run of secondary offerings in a year shows new shift
  • Large holders join corporate issuers with outsized selling

Corporate America and its biggest investors are finally accepting lower valuations in stock sales, sparking a sudden rebound secondary offerings after more than a year of nearly nonexistent share issuance in the US.

Over the past 10 days alone, US companies have raised more than $6 billion in equity sales, their biggest windfall in more than a year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The deals are providing long-awaited relief to balance sheets and a chance for existing holders to sell large stakes that were overdue for liquidation.

The jump is largely due to sellers toning down their expectations on valuation after more than a year of holding out for levels that at least approached those seen in 2021, dealmakers say. The S&P 500 remains down 16% since the start of last year despite a 4% recovery in 2023. 

“The number of transactions that came so quickly was surprising to a lot of us on the Street, but it makes sense,” said James VanMilder, head of equity capital markets at Nomura Greentech. “Valuation expectations have come back to earth for sponsors, which is bridging this disconnect that we had before.”

relates to Companies Fold on High Valuations, Sparking Flood of Stock Sales
Source: Bloomberg

About 30 secondary offerings have priced since the start of last week, including names like American Water Works Co Inc., Alight Inc., Option Care Health Inc., Bumble Inc., Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. and Southwest Gas Holdings Inc. While the of pace of deals is similar to what happened in February, the size has ballooned as larger firms replace the small-cap issuers that were previously dominating the space. 

On the buy side, the shift was made possible by large amounts of cash on the sidelines and a greater diversity of product that’s attracting investors from a wider variety of focal points.

An unusually large portion of these offerings have been brought by selling stockholders. During this month’s pickup, about 55% of proceeds have gone to top holders rather than corporate issuers. In 2022, basically none of the proceeds went to big shareholders, and in 2021 the figure was around 20%. 

“Many funds have held onto these public positions longer than they would have anticipated at the time of IPO,” said Dan Polsky, co-head of syndicate at William Blair. “2022 was essentially a write-off in terms of the ability to monetize some of these stakes, so it required people to be more thoughtful about how they start in 2023.”

The market has been rewarding those who participate in the offerings. The latest round of sales has delivered an average gain of 2.3% during their first day of trading — a common metric of deal performance tracked by investment bankers — compared with a 1.9% advance in secondaries sold earlier this year.

Written by:  @Bloomberg.com

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