Bankrate Joins Frenzy for Tech IPOs

Last Updated Jun 17, 2011 4:20 PM EDT

The dot-com 2.0 IPO frenzy continued Friday with Bankrate's (RATE) debut as the latest high-profile tech company to go public, raising $300 million with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bankrate, a useful website for information on mortgages, insurance, credit cards and other consumer financial products, is just the latest in a series of hot tech IPOs. But where other recent IPOs enjoyed big opening day pops before fizzling out, Bankrate didn't even get that far.

Shares, priced at $15, tumbled to $13.81 soon after Friday's opening bell and spent most of the session wallowing in the red. The stock then spiked in the last minutes of trading to finish at $15.34, up 2.3 percent, or 34 cents.

In a case of deja vu all over again, a number of recent tech 2.0 IPOs have quickly petered out, dredging up bad memories of the the dot-com crash a decade ago. Who wants to go through Webvan, or again?
Shares in Pandora (P), for example, the streaming music service, soared more than 60 percent on their first day of trading Wednesday, but tumbled to close at $13.38 the very next session -- well below the IPO price of $16 a share.

LinkedIn (LNKD), a social networking site, more than doubled in its May debut, but shares have lost 28 percent since. Meanwhile, Yandex (YNDX), the so-called Google (GOOG) of Russia, popped more than 40 percent in its May debut -- and is now off 20 percent since opening day.

With Groupon and Zynga set to go public and a Facebook IPO in the works, it's safe to say we're still in the early stages the 2.0 tech frenzy. No wonder there's so much hand-wringing about a second tech bubble.

But back to Bankrate. The company offered 20 million shares priced at $15 a share. That raised $300 million before fees. Bankrate was actually a publicly traded company for 10 years before private-equity shop Apax Partners acquired it in 2009 in a deal worth $571 million.

The company did turn a profit in the first quarter, booking $5.1 million in net income on revenue of $99 million. However, for all of 2010 Bankrate posted a net loss of nearly $22 million on more than $300 in revenue.

IPOs may be fun to read about, but that's as far as most investors should ever get involved. Jumping on the latest sexy name has no part in any credible, long-term, disciplined investing strategy. Besides, Apax will still hold more than 70 percent of Bankrate following the IPO, making your vote at the annual meeting even more ineffectual than usual.

Image courtesy of flickr user Katrina.Tuliao, CC 2.0.
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Pandora's IPO Debacle

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    Dan Burrows, a veteran of Aol's DailyFinance, SmartMoney and MarketWatch from Dow Jones, covers the markets and economy with an eye toward investing for the long haul.