In this paper, we examine the pre-market valuation of initial public offerings (IPO) usingcomparable firm multiples. IPOs earn large first-day returns (between 10% and 15%) after goingpublic.
This phenomenon is widely referred to as IPO
But if there is underpricing,what is the underpricing with respect to? One possibility is that the underpricing is with respectto fair value. The notion issuers intentionally underprice IPOs and offer them at prices belowtheir fair value is prevalent in the theoretical literature on IPOs (see the asymmetric informationmodels of Rock (1986), Benveniste and Spindt (1989), Allen and Faulhaber (1989), Welch(1989), Grinblatt and Hwang (1989) and the information momentum model of Aggarwal,Krigman, and Womack (2002)). Since the market price reflects fair value in an efficient market,the increase in IPO stock prices on the first day of trading is taken as evidence of underpricing(or more accurately undervaluation) at the offer. Thus, the terms underpricing andundervaluation are interchangeable in this context.
An alternate view of underpricing (in aninefficient market) is that issuers underprice IPOs with respect to the maximum price they couldhave charged given the observed demand in the pre-market but not necessarily with respect tothe long-run fair value. In other words, IPOs may be underpriced but not undervalued. Thisnotion of underpricing underlies the studies on the long-run underperformance of IPOs (seeLoughran (1993), Loughran and Ritter (1995), and Brav and Gompers (1997)).In this paper, we examine whether IPOs are underpriced with respect to fair value.
Since we donot assume price necessarily equals value in our analysis, we henceforth use the terminology
to refer to the notion of pricing IPOs below or above fair value.We value IPOs using price multiples, such as price-to-EBITDA, price-to-sales, and price-to-earnings of industry peers and then compare this
value to the offer price.
See Logue (1973), Ibbotson (1975), and Ibbotson, Sindelar, and Ritter (1994) for early evidence of large first-dayreturns defined as the offer price to close return. See also the survey by Ibbotson and Ritter (1995) for an exhaustivereview of the academic literature on IPOs.
See popular MBA textbooks (see Brealey and Myers (2000) (Chapter 15: pages 414-416), Ross, Westerfield, andJaffe (1996) (Chapter 13: pages 354-356), and Copeland and Weston (1988) (Chapter 11: pages 377-380)) whichalso describe first-day returns of IPOs as underpricing (or undervaluation) with respect to fair value.
Kim and Ritter (1999) examine the valuation of IPOs using comparable IPO transaction multiples. Their focushowever, is on determining the accuracy of these multiples in predicting offer prices by examining absoluteprediction errors, not on IPO underpricing. Also, their study is limited to 190 firms that went public in 1992-1993.
EBITDA stands for
Earnings before Interest, Taxes, and Depreciation and Amortization
. It is also referred to as
Operating income before depreciation and amortization.