An investor putting money in the secondary market can take advantage of price fluctuations to invest in a stock when its valuation turns attractive. This can happen either when the mood in the entire market is depressed, or when negative news affects the stock of a particular company. If the investor's research tells him that the setback to the company is temporary, he can use the price correction to enter that stock.
Available information is inadequate
Another risk of investing in IPOs arises from the fact that the financial data available for the company is limited. “To arrive at the correct valuation of a stock requires data of at least the past 10 years. In the red-herring prospectus of most IPOs, you will typically find data for the past three years which is inadequate,” says Bengaluru-based S G Rajasekharan, who teaches wealth management at Christ University and is an avid equity investor. He adds that promoters usually launch IPOs during a buoyant phase in the business cycle – when their financials are looking good. When the inevitable downturn comes, these numbers often take a nasty plunge. Since the investor did not have an opportunity to check the company's performance during both an up- and a down-cycle, he can sometimes get an ugly surprise when he invests based only on three years' data.
Companies that have been trading on exchanges for a long time are less likely to throw up unpleasant surprises because more information is available about them in the public domain. They have to make disclosures to stock exchanges regularly, even about small developments. Analysts who have been tracking a listed company for a while have a fairly good idea about such qualitative aspects as the competence and character of the management. Such information is not available in the case of new companies.
It is possible to make money, but not always
In bullish market conditions, it is possible to profit from listing-day gains. But, sometimes, if market sentiment turns negative suddenly, or if a stock's valuation is set at a very expensive level, the stock price can plunge on the very first day. Many experts, therefore, regard investing for listing gains as akin to gambling. They suggest investors should avoid such risky bets as the chances of losing capital is high.
High-networth individuals (HNI) often tend to invest in such issues aggressively. As subscription numbers show, the HNI portion is often subscribed multiple times. If your risk appetite is high, IPOs can give both listing gains, and for the patient, great returns over the longer term. But the trick is to bet on the right ones, and an ear on the ground, so that you have valuable information about the stock’s prospects.
Retail investors can afford to give most IPOs a miss. Instead, if a stock that has debuted on the bourses appears fundamentally attractive, or belongs to a new sector for which there are no listed alternatives, investors should calculate the valuation at which they will have a high probability of making a profit in the stock. They should then wait patiently for the stock price to descend to that level in the secondary market. Jimeet Modi, chief executive officer, Samco Securities, says that investors should wait for 200 days before investing in a newly listed company. This, according to him, is the time it takes for the IPO-related hype around a company to dissipate and for the price to settle down to a more realistic level.
Prithvi Haldea, founder and chairman of Prime Database, a company that tracks primary markets, suggests that retail investors betting on listing gains should rely on the response of Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs) to the IPO. "If the QIB section is oversubscribed, that usually leads to a price spurt on the listing date," he says. Some comfort can also be gained from the presence of private equity or venture capital investors in a company going for an IPO. According to Haldea, this indicates that due diligence has already been done on the company by a sophisticated institutional investor, so it is likely to have better standards of corporate governance. He adds that it is a good sign if these investors are exiting only partly from the company during the IPO, as it indicates that they see the stock price rising further in the future.