Look out for bears in those greentech woods. Bloomberg reports that hedge funds are taking big short positions in greentech companies such as First Solar, American Superconductor and high-flying Tesla Motors. Overall short positions in companies on the WilderHill New Energy Index have risen from 15 percent in September to 17 percent in November, compared to an average 4.4 percent ratio for the S&P 500. As of Nov. 15, First Solar and American Superconductor had more than a quarter of their traded shares shorted, and Tesla had a whopping 65 percent of its free-floating shares shorted. Of course, Tesla has seen its share price nearly double since its June IPO, but isn’t expected to start turning a profit until 2012 — a combination that makes for a classic short-selling target in any industry.
The headwinds were too much for First Wind. The Boston-based wind farm developer canceled its IPO this morning, one day after it dropped its per-share price range to $18 to $20 down from $24 to $26. The company cited unfavorable market conditions, but analysts noted it had losses of $233 million and outstanding debt of $582.2 million as of the end of September, putting it at risk of default. First Wind joins a list of canceled greentech IPOs so far this year, including thin-film solar module maker Solyndra and China’s Trony Solar. In First Wind’s case, it also has to fight headwinds in its domestic market — Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that 2010 U.S. wind power installations are expected to fall 39 percent compared to 2009.
More news on the green tech IPO front out of China this morning. Reuters reports that two of China’s biggest energy producers, China Huaneng Group Corp. and Datang Corp., plan to launch initial public offerings for their renewable energy units on the Hong Kong stock exchange as early as the end of this year. Citing anonymous sources, Reuters put the value of the two IPOs at close to $2 billion. China took the lead in greentech IPO’s in the second quarter of this year, although San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla Motors’s $226 million IPO was the quarter’s single biggest. But if Huaneng New Energy Industrial Co. does debut at the $1 billion to $1.5 billion valuation cited by Reuters, it would likely take the claim of the year’s biggest green tech IPO — and give China even more bragging rights in the global green tech competition.
Om this morning broke the news that Skype is looking to raise as much as $100 million in an initial public offering. The SEC filing is full of interesting tidbits including Skype’s $406 million in revenue during the first half of 2010, $344 million in legal expenses to acquire the P2P technology from the firm’s founders, and a $6 million investment in the music startup Rdio. But as Peter Kafka of All Things D points out, perhaps the most interesting nugget is Skype’s “adjusted EBITDA” profit of $115.8 million during the first six months of the year. That accounting concept may seem obscure to some onlookers, but the figure is sure to attract the attention of the investors Skype will need for a successful IPO.
In my Weekly Update this week I discuss why I think the recently announced Hulu Plus does not pose a significant competitive threat to Netflix, as some other analysts have suggested. Basically, the case boils down to: Hulu’s parent companies, News Corp., Disney and NBC Universal-cum-Comcast won’t let it, for their own strategic reasons. A spin-off of Hulu via IPO, however, could change that calculus by freeing Hulu to pursue its own strategic agenda rather than that of its parent companies. For Hulu and its users’ sakes, here’s hoping.
Like I mentioned yesterday, GM swung to a profit and courted Google to provide Android for the Chevy Volt. Now, an interesting statistic has emerged: over half of GM’s patent filings last year involve green technologies. Does this make the automaker’s upcoming public offering a stealth cleantech IPO?
As companies prepare for a cleantech IPO boomlet this year, Landis+Gyr likely won’t be among them. The Swiss smart meter maker is planning to public, but not before the next two to three years. Why the wait? “The aim is an IPO, but we want to be sure,” says CEO Andreas Umbach. Sure that market conditions support a desirable valuation or sure that it can emerge from a smart grid shakeout unscathed? Both, it sounds like…
Ten years ago, the dotcom crash changed the Internet business forever. There’s more emphasis today on making sure that the fundamentals of an Internet business are stronger. Most startups are obsessed with monetization, even if they don’t like to admit it. While nobody would argue that basing a business on fiscal reality is a bad thing, this newfound conservative approach has also had negative effects.
A new post today at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech blog has an interesting take on Bloom Energy and its headline-grabbing unveiling this week. The title, “Bloom box debut: More IPO than CO2,” pretty much says it all. After soaking up $400 million in venture capital, is the firm feeling the pressure to go public while cleantech is still hot?