As we heard from KPMG L.L.P. yesterday, the initial public offering window has been practically nailed shut for most of 2008.
IPOs tend to be bad investments for most individuals. For every Google, there are 99 Boston Chickens or Krispy Kremes.
But the emergence of new public companies is a sign of the overall health of the stock market. If all you knew was that 486 companies priced their IPOs in 1999 compared with 43 so far this year, you could probably guess that 2008 has been lousy for stocks.
Renaissance Capital's IPOhome.com says this year's IPO crop would be the smallest in the last 10 years since the 68 IPOs priced in 2003.
Philadelphia has never been a hotbed of IPO activity. Still, one of this year's better-performing IPOs is Conshohocken's CardioNet Inc., which raised net proceeds of $46.7 million on March 25. Its shares fell 47 cents yesterday to close at $18.54, which is pretty close to its IPO price of $18.
While CardioNet's 3 percent total return since March 18 may not get your heart racing, it's better than the 33 percent decline for the Russell 2000 index.
As for what's trying to go public, think infrastructure. Given that the next federal economic stimulus program is likely to be a massive amount of spending on transportation and energy infrastructure, there are a bunch of private-sector firms hoping to steamroll those billions.
One is a Georgia infrastructure company with local ties that filed for its IPO last summer. Brand Energy Inc., which has not priced its offering, acquired Associated Insulation Services Inc., of Willingboro, in April 2007 in exchange for $15.7 million in cash and the assumption of $2.5 million in liabilities.
At the time, Associated Insulation said it employed up to 400 people depending on the season. Its main business is installing and maintaining mechanical insulation systems in factories and commercial buildings in the Philadelphia area.
UPDATE: Another Philadelphia area company that went public in 2008 was American Water Works Co. Inc., the Voorhees water utility. It went public at $21.50. Shares closed Monday at $20.64, down 23 cents.