Do IPOs Signal Trouble? Hardly, Says Fisher

Some have been wondering whether the amount of initial public offerings recently is a sign of euphoric sentiment in the market. But Kenneth Fisher says it’s not the number of IPOs that matters, but the type.

“While IPOs increased markedly in this bull market, that’s what they’re supposed to do — predicting no more than a simple calendar does,” Fisher writes in his latest Forbes column. He says IPOs come in two types: “firms formed years ago that built, fast or slow, real businesses”, and “recent sexy concepts with few customers or little size”. Fisher says that “during most typical bull markets, IPO money comes largely in the former type. In the late euphoric phase, it’s the latter. … We aren’t seeing that yet.”

“Stock offerings (IPOs plus secondaries) still lag far behind cash-based stock takeovers and buybacks,” Fisher adds. “Net equity supply has shrunk steadily in this bull market. So I’m bullish! Euphoria is far in the future.” He examines a handful of foreign picks he likes, including PetroChina.