September 15, 2020
The Nasdaq Composite is revving up for a flurry of IPOs with 15 coming this week alone.
Jeff Thomas, head of tech listings for Nasdaq, said many companies are making the leap ahead of the upcoming presidential election in anticipation of more volatility.
"You'll definitely see more volatility then, and companies like to go out in a low-volatility environment, which we're not in today, but it could only get more volatile as we get closer to the election," he said.
Thomas said the index has hosted a steady clip of IPOs in 2020, bringing the rate in line with past years despite the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.
"We've already had over 140 IPOs this year, which is typically the number we'd see in a normal year," he said. "We've got 15 companies lined up to go public this week alone, and we don't see anything slowing down at least until the election."
He added that Nasdaq is still pitching several deals for December, however.
"Markets are at all-time highs, so valuations are pretty rich," Thomas said. "You've got a very receptive audience in terms of the buy-side. The average IPO is up over 30 percent this year, so they are all looking for a way to kind of continue to increase their returns."
At least on the Nasdaq, tech companies have led the charge.
"Interestingly, healthcare has been the leading sector for IPOs this year, but the tech companies that have gone out have, by the vast majority, chosen to go public on Nasdaq," Thomas said.
Outside of tech, the consumer space has been slightly more sluggish, he added.
"We've seen a lot of investors looking to invest in companies that are facilitating digital transformation, while some of the legacy companies that have more of a bricks and mortar approach have been suffering due to the pandemic," Thomas said.
Some upcoming IPOs this week include Pactiv Evergreen, software firm Jfrog, cloud management company Sumo Logic, and dialysis tech firm Outset Medical. The next two weeks will also see the long-anticipated IPO of controversial data analytics company Palantir Technologies and the work management platform Asana.
Whatever happens in the November election, Thomas anticipates that the Nasdaq's tech-heavy focus will continue to drive investors to the exchange.
"We saw a little bit of a pullback last week on the Nasdaq index, but one of the things that we continue to see is large inflows into our [exchange traded funds] or index offerings," he said. "The Nasdaq 100 has really been leading the way this year because that index covers the most innovative companies in the market."