So far, 2014 is setting IPO records globally

Initial public offerings are back, big-time. The first half of 2014 saw a record number of IPOs around the globe, with U.S. companies occupying six of the 10 best-performing initial stock offerings.

The first three months saw 82 IPOs, the most of any first quarter since 2000, according to IPO investment firm Renaissance Capital. However, the pace then picked up, and the second quarter saw 127 offerings, tying the record for most launches in any quarter since the heyday of the tech bubble.

So far, the total value of this year's IPOs is $90.6 billion. This is an enormous increase over the first half of 2013, which saw 115 launches generate $58.9 billion in value.

Europe had the most of IPOs -- 65 -- of any region this year, thanks in part to the ongoing recovery from its debt crisis and EU interest rates staying at record lows. However, its 44 second-quarter launches had the worst performance, with just a 0.9 percent return in the quarter. In that same period, North America had the same number of IPOs but posted a 21.7 percent return, barely ahead of the Middle East where two IPOs had a 21.6 percent return.

Chief among the struggling European IPOs were travel agencies eDreams ODIGEO (-48.6 percent) and Bravofly Rumbo Group (-30.7 percent), and Italian renewable energy systems company Ecosuntek (-26.7 percent).

Overall, IPOs gained an average of 9 percent in first-day trading and 11 percent in the aftermarket, "a healthier balance than recent quarters," according to the report's authors.

Despite these positive numbers, the market did stumble at times. "The sell-off of high-growth, high-multiple stocks in March and April threatened to derail IPO activity as the market was forced to find a clearing price for new issues," the report stated. "Growth IPOs also faced headwinds but managed to deliver successes in GoPro, GrubHub, Zoe's Kitchen and Zendesk."

Among the American companies in the second quarter's top 10 performers globally were GasLog Partners (GLOP), enterprise data-center switching provider Arista Networks (ANET) and renewable assets operator Abengoa Yield (ABY). European markets struggled to gain traction with investors in the second quarter.

Although the biotech sector dominated the first quarter's IPO market, the second quarter saw widespread activity, including large number of launches in the tech (18), energy (15), financial (32) and consumer (19) sectors.

Even if 2014's second half isn't as busy as the first, it'll likely still be a healthy market for the IPOs of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, British mobile network Everything Everywhere and Chinese commercial lender Bank of Beijing, all of which are expected by year-end.

  • Constantine von Hoffman On Twitter»

    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.

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