Q1 Busiest in 12 Years for IPOs

So much for the demise of the IPO market on US stock markets, as was talked about during the final quarter of 2011. A total of 20 venture capital-backed companies went public on US stock exchanges during the current quarter, which ends Friday, representing the highest number of public launches in the US since 2000. Combined, the companies raised just under $1.65 billion, marking the highest first-quarter IPO tally since 2007. The combined market caps of the firms after the IPOs is just under $10 billion.

The largest IPO during the quarter was for ExactTarget, and Indianapolis, Indiana developer of software for email marketing. He company raised $161.5 million last week through the sale of 8.5 million common shares priced at $19 each. The shares have since gained almost 40 percent, closing at $26.49 each at the end of Thursday’s session. The second-largest public debut was made by Millennial Media, a mobile advertising firm based in Baltimore that raised $133 million through the sale of 10.2 million shares at $13 each. Millennial’ stock has nearly doubled since its debut on Wednesday, entering Friday’s session at $25.58 a share.

The majority of the 20 companies that went public this quarter were tech-related firms, although a couple of life sciences and cleantech companies launched as well. The biggest non-tech IPO was launched by Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, which raised about $100 million at the beginning of this week.

Despite the high number of IPOs during the quarter, there wasn’t a real blockbuster public launch to mark the busy quarter. But that will likely not be the case in Q2, as the world’s largest social network, Facebook, is scheduled to launch its long-anticipated IPO during the quarter. The number of IPOs may be even higher in the next three months, as well, thanks to the recently passed JOBS Act which makes it easier for small and mid-size companies to go public by removing some of the regulatory hurdles involved in the process.