What is the most important moment in a company's life? Its creation? The first time it makes a profit? Perhaps it is still the day of its IPO. This day, planned for many months or even years, is a rite of passage for those who decide to go public. What are the biggest IPOs in the U.S. markets, and how have these companies performed since then? Let's hop in our time machine to find out.
Unless you've spent your last few years with a bear in a cave, there's little chance you haven't heard of Alibaba. The Chinese giant, founded by the whimsical Jack Ma, has expanded its business in everything from online commerce and payment methods to artificial intelligence and content creation.
On the morning of September 14, 2014, when it went public, one share of Alibaba stock was worth $68. By the end of the day its value had risen 38% to $93.89.
After a good start, with a steady rise in the first two months, Alibaba's stock reached a value of $119 on November 10, 2014. However, it fell back in line a bit over the following months. In September 2015, a year after its IPO, Alibaba's stock was worth only $65.75, down 3.3% from its IPO price.
During the following years, Alibaba experienced an almost constant progression until January 2020, when the share reached its highest value at $230, an increase of 238% compared to its debut. Yet, since then, it has declined. On November 9, 2021, a little more than 7 years after Alibaba entered the U.S. markets, its share price was only $160.19, still an increase of 135.6% compared to the day of its IPO.
America itself. Or at least one of its most important symbols. Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac: all these names are synonymous with road trips across the great American plains, but they are also all brands belonging to the General Motors group. In a nutshell, General Motors (GM) is the American car. However, the company listed today on the stock exchange is not exactly the same as the one founded in 1908. The latter declared bankruptcy in 2009 before rising from its ashes and making a comeback in 2010.
When the markets opened on November 18, 2010, General Motors shares were trading at $33. At the end of the day, the stock was worth $34.19, up a modest 3.6%.
The first year on the markets of the new GM was not very successful, as its share price fell by 28.7% to $23.57.
Eleven years after its IPO, GM has recovered nicely, although the stock had its ups and downs. General Motors is a classic cyclical stock and bottomed out at the beginning of the pandemic, when on March 18, 2020, it fell to $16.8, nearly half its IPO price. Today, things are better and GM has recapitalized nicely, thanks to the exceptional rally we are currently living in, to reach $58.62, up more than 77% from its introduction price.
Open your wallet. What do you see? An old subway ticket, a crumpled 5-euro bill, a supermarket receipt dated April 14, 2019, and also a credit card. And there is a good chance that it is issued by the world's number one card company: Visa.
On March 19, 2008, when Visa went public, its stock was priced at $44. A few hours later, at the close, the share was worth $56.50. An increase of 28.4%, despite the fact that the financial crisis of 2007-2008 was in full swing. A successful operation.
As it is often the case, the optimism of the first few hours subsided in the following months. While Visa's stock never fell below its IPO price, it stagnated during its first year. In March 2009, it was still hovering around the same value as a year earlier.
While Visa's stock struggled to take off due to the financial crisis, things started changing in 2012, when the company's share price began to soar. In November 2021 it was worth $220, a 1,900% increase from its IPO price.
The more math-savvy among you will tell me that 1,900% of $44 does not equal $220, but $880. You are right. However, on March 19, 2015, six years after its IPO, Visa did a 4-for-1 stock split. This means that Visa split the shares existing on that date into 4. For every share you would have owned before March 19, 2015, you would have received four shares whose value would have been divided by four.
Are you still following? $220*4=$880, or 1,900% of $44. The price is right.
Do I really need to tell you?
$38: this is the amount at which the Facebook share began trading on May 18, 2012. At the end of the day, its value barely moved, as it only reached $38.23, a minimal increase of 0.61%. This was a disappointment for what is still today the largest IPO of a tech company.
Things didn't get any better for Facebook, which had a complicated first year on the markets. Mid-May 2013, a year after its IPO, the company's share price fell nearly 31% to $26.25.
Almost ten years after its first day of trading, things have changed. Today, Facebook is one of the biggest American stocks and its price has skyrocketed. At the beginning of November 2021, its value was close to $340, an increase of almost 800% compared to its introduction price.
Only Europe's largest telecommunications provider. The German company will also remind the most nostalgic cycling fans of the fallen star, Jan Ullrich: Lance Armstrong's eternal rival on the roads of the Tour de France at the turn of the century.
Deutsche Telekom, which was until 1995 a German state-owned company, went public on November 18, 1996, with an IPO price of €14.30. At the end of its first day of trading, the share price reached €16.67, an increase of 16.6%.
Deutsche Telekom shares did not really take off during their first year and remained at a relatively stable level compared to their first day at the close. Mid-November 1997, it was worth a little less than €18, an increase of 25.6% compared to its introduction price.
The turn of the millennium was a turbulent time for Deutsche Telekom. From the end of 1998 to the beginning of March 2000, the company was one of the main beneficiaries of the Internet bubble. Its share price increased exponentially until it reached €103.5: up more than 600% compared to its introduction price. But the bubble burst and Deutsche Telekom's share price plummeted inexorably below its introduction price. Deutsche Telekom's share price did not recover until 2015, and did not perform miraculously either since then. Today, a share of the company is trading at around €17, which is more or less the same level as it was at the end of its first day on the stock exchange.
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