initial public offerings (IPOs) trading on American exchanges

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Groupon rolls out loyalty program to help businesses keep daily deal customers

Groupon Inc. is launching a loyalty program for merchants to reward frequent visitors, hoping to help local businesses improve retention among new customers generated by daily deal promotions.

The initiative, called Groupon Rewards, will debut in Philadelphia next month and later roll out to other cities. The rewards program marks the company's first official loyalty program and helps address a common business concern : how to retain customers attracted by a daily deal.
Groupon has been criticized by some merchants who complain that daily deals generate losses because consumers rarely return to pay full price.

Jeff Holden, Groupon's senior vice president of product, said the rewards program completes a trio of merchant tools. Daily deals are meant for customer acquisition, while Groupon Now, a real-time service launched in May, helps local businesses manage demand during specific times of day.

The third component is "loyalty and retention," said Holden, a former executive who joined Groupon after his startup, Pelago, was acquired by the Chicago-based company earlier this year.
"This was the missing piece, and that's why we built it," Holden said.

A number of other young technology companies are using social media and mobile applications to put fresh spins on loyalty programs. But Groupon says it has the advantages of brand awareness, existing merchant relationships and a system that is easy for consumers and businesses to use.

With Groupon Rewards, a customer who spends a certain amount of money at a merchant across any number of visits unlocks a Groupon that can be spent at that business. The merchant sets the spending goal and the value of the voucher. Consumers participate in the program by opting in once and putting a debit or credit card on file with Groupon. An automated system tracks spending on that card and unlocks the reward voucher when the goal is hit.

The program is free for merchants and consumers. Groupon takes a commission from the reward vouchers.
Groupon does not require a merchant to run a regular daily deal in order to participate in the loyalty program .

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Top Five Cleantech IPOs

Economic conditions have not favored cleantech companies intending to launch Initial Public Offerings on Nasdaq this year. But those that have gone public, and those registered but still waiting in the wings, point to uncertainties in the clean energy industry.

An Ernst & Young's report, Global IPO Trends 2011, showed that there were 150 companies in the US that had filed S1 forms for their initial public offering this year, the highest level since 2007, which would raise around $40 billion. Small high-tech and energy companies were behind this trend, it said.

Advanced biofuels may have reached a stage of maturation, while investors hesitate to reveal an appetite for riskier technologies. So far, 2011 has seen a cautious continuation of last year's trend, which saw the introduction of biofuels companies such as Amyris and Codexis.

Amyris (AMRS), backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been as close to a clean tech overnight success as we've seen since its flotation in September last year. Its share price was initially priced at $16 and has peaked at $33.66 and deals with Total and Nikko chemicals have followed since for the company's yeast-based technology that turns sugars into hydrocarbons.

But as with many cleantech companies the costs of reaching commercial scale are enormous, and as Solyndra's collapse illustrated, sometimes unbearable. Amryis's second quarter losses for 2011 were $42.6 million compared with $19.9 million in the same quarter of 2010 – figures which overshadow revenue increases for the second quarter in 2011 of $32 million versus $12.7 million in 2010.

Solazyme, the most high-profile of this year's clean tech IPOs, entered the competitive and arguably overcrowded advanced biofuel space as a public company in May. Its industrial fermentation accelerates microalgae's natural oil production to form "drop-in" replacements for marine, motor vehicle, and jet fuels, dietary supplements and skin care products. Its IPO prices of 11m rose 15% from $18, raising $197.6 million on its Nasdaq debut.

Solazyme now has a market capitalization of $1.5bn and was listed by as number 2 in its top 10 companies by growth rate. Although quoted 2010 revenues of $37.97 million, and a three-year growth rate of an enormous 20,424% its losses in the second quarter this year were $17.0 million, which compares to $6.4 million in the prior year period.

Those losses are conservative in cleantech and can largely be explained by a growth of its operations, including 283,000 liters of military-spec diesel for the US Navy. The company has also struck deals with Dow Chemical, Chevron, Unilever Qantas and the US Navy. Eventually, the company aims to produce algal fuel oil for the fuels market at $3.44 per gallon.

Established by two college friends: Harrison Dillon and Jonathan Wolfson in 2001, a $22 million Department of Energy grant in December 2009 helped create the Solazyme company we see today.

Gevo, based in Englewood, Colorado, may not have achieved the media coverage enjoyed by Solazyme. But its backers include some very high-profile investors, such as Richard Branson's Virgin Green Fund and Vinod Khosla. On its first day of trading in February Gevo sold 7.15 million shares at $15 each, now trading at around $10.
Gevo's isobutanol can be used as "drop-in" fuels for gasoline and "drop-in" chemicals in the production of plastics, rubber or polyesters. Gevo is converting existing ethanol plants into biorefineries and since its IPO, it has begun to retrofit its ethanol plant in Luverne, Minnesota.

When completed next year, it will be the world's first commercial-scale bio-based ethanol facility. Isobutanol is said to be a better alternative to ethanol because it uses a yeast biocatalyst which can convert multiple feedstock and agricultural waste.
Patrick Gruber, Gevo's CEO, was previously at agricultural multinational, Cargill.
"Isobutanol made from renewable raw materials can be used to make a variety of everyday products such as rubber, plastics and fuel, and is a versatile solution to help displace our country's dependency on petroleum and create a biobased economy," he said.

Gevo aims to launch its product in the first half of 2012 and is also contesting patent law suit from Butamax Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture from BP and DuPont.

KiOR is a next-generation renewable fuels company that has developed a process to convert forest-based biomass into renewable crude oil for the transportation sector. It aims to access the $2 trillion global transportation fuels market while also benefiting from government programs, such as the US Renewable Fuel Standard. Each of the top 10 oil refiners in the US, who account for 70% of total capacity, will be required to purchase at least $1 billion worth of renewable fuels per year by 2022.

Founded by Khosla Ventures (KV) in 2007, the cellulosic fuels company now has Condolezza Rice on its board of directors. KiOR priced shares at $15 at its IPO in June but completed its initial public offering for 10 million shares a little lower, raising $137.5 million. It claims advantage over rivals in that it derives its fuels from wood and agricultural waste, while avoiding feedstocks such as corn or soy.

KiOR has signed an offtake agreement with Catchlight Energy LLC (CLE), a joint venture between subsidiaries of Chevron and Weyerhaeuser Company, which will supply forestry-based feedstocks for KiOR's first commercial renewable fuel facility in Columbus, Mississippi, due to start production in the middle of next year.

Silver Spring Networks
Silver Spring Networks filed its registration statement for its long-awaited IPO proposal in July. It is already the largest provider of Smart Grid IT software in the US and dominates Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in the utility sector. Distribution Automation, Demand Response and Distributed Generation are also target areas for the company. Its utility clients in the US include Florida Power & Light, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pepco Holdings and Australian utilities Jemena Electricity Networks in Australia and United Energy Distribution.

Whether Silver Springs Network will reach IPO is the subject of hot speculation. Overseas success has put United Energy Distribution on the radar for corporate M&A teams. But a rumored $3bn target valuation now seems relatively high after Toshiba's acquisition of Swiss smart meter specialist Landis+Gyr which has 8,000 utility customers worldwide for $2.3 billion earlier this year.

Either option presents Silver Springs Network with an opportunity for huge market penetration.
Eric Dresselhuys, executive VP and CMO, said: "We expect smart grids to become almost ubiquitous over time, but we'll likely see 85% penetration over the next 10 years. It is a very fractured market in the US, so it will take hundreds of utilities and 50 state regulatory commissions to make that happen. Deployment of smart grids is spurring innovation, so as the systems are deployed someone will invent some new killer app or gizmo that we can't even imagine today.

BrightSource filed for a $250 million public offering in April and since then the company has gone quiet on the S1 registration. But the utility-scale solar developer has been busy signing off power purchase agreements and applications for new projects.

Since BrightSource was founded in 2004, the solar developer has secured 14 power purchase agreements (PPAs) to deliver approximately 2.6 GW of installed capacity to PG&E and and Southern California Edison.
In April 2011, Ivanpah was partially financed with a $1.6 billion DOE loan guarantee. NRG Solar invested a further $300m in the project and another $168 million came from Google earlier this year.

BrightSource also has plans to expand globally through partnership with one of its corporate investors Alstom, which has a 17.8% stake in the company. It hopes to bid on projects in the Middle East, Northern Africa, South Africa and Southern Europe in partnership with the French energy company.

BrightSource's keystone project, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, California, began construction in October last year. At 392 MW, it is the largest solar plant under construction and has off-take agreements with PG&E and Southern California Edison and equity investments from NRG Solar and Google.

BrightSource also has another in the pipeline two 250 MW solar power plants for its Hidden Hills project in Inyo County, California. In August 2011, BrightSource Energy filed an application with the California Energy Commission to develop the 500MW on federal lands.

BrightSource has racked $12.9 million in lease costs and claims that its proprietary solar thermal tower system will reduce land use by 33% or more compared with a typical PV farm or parabolic CSP plant.

Groupon tries to explain leaked memo in amended IPO document

Groupon Inc. is asking potential investors in its planned initial public offering that a leaked internal memo by Chief Executive Andrew Mason "not be considered in isolation," according to an amended prospectus filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The memo, which first appeared on the All Things D blog in late August, was a feisty rejoinder to much of the criticism that has swirled around Groupon's finances and business model since the company filed its IPO in June.

When the memo made the rounds in the media, Groupon came under suspicion that it had deliberately leaked the memo in an effort to defend the company without making a public statement, which is forbidden under SEC "quiet period" rules.

"The email was leaked to the media without our knowledge and has been reprinted by a number of news outlets," Groupon said in its Friday filing. "The email was intended for employees and not prospective investors and, therefore, did not contain the more complete information...described in this prospectus."

This is not the first time Groupon had to update its prospectus in response to remarks that became public. In July, the company amended its paperwork to discount a reported statement by co-founder Eric Lefkofsky that it would be "wildly profitable."

In other notable changes to the prospectus, Groupon introduced a financial metric called "gross billings," which is the gross amount collected from consumers for sold Groupons. Groupon used to call this figure "revenues," and reported $909.2 million in gross billings for the second quarter of 2011, up from $3.3 million in the year-earlier period.

Groupon is now defining "revenues" as the purchase price paid for a Groupon minus the commission that is paid to a merchant. In the amended prospectus, Groupon said it brought in $392.6 million in revenues in the second quarter of 2011, compared with $1.2 million in the same period of 2009. Previously, Groupon referred to this figure as "gross profit," but has now dropped the term "gross profit" from its filing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Groupon exec Georgiadis exits after only five months

Groupon Inc.'s new president, Margo Georgiadis, is returning to Google Inc., just five months after she was hired.

She was only hired in April, just months before the company filed to go public. Georgiadis was previously VP of Global Sales at Google.

Georgiadis was in charge of the company's global sales, marketing and operations at the Chicago-based social buying service.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Francesca’s (FRAN) looking good

Francesca’s Holdings Corporation (Holdings), incorporated in 2007, is a holding company. The Company’s business operations are conducted through its wholly owned indirect subsidiary, Francesca’s Collections, Inc. (Francesca’s Collections), which is wholly owned by Francesca’s LLC (Parent). Holdings operates under its trademark, francesca’s collections. The Company operates a national chain of retail boutiques designed and merchandised. Its francesca’s collections is a specialty retailer in the United States. Holdings's retail locations are designed and merchandised as owned, upscale boutiques. In February 2010, CCMP Capital Advisors, LLC (CCMP) acquired an 84% interest in the Company from the Founders and Bear Growth Capital Partners, LP (BGCP).

Holdings offer a range of fashion apparel, jewelry, accessories and gifts. As of April 2, 2011, Holdings had a boutique base in 236 locations in 38 states. The Company’s merchandise is also available through its e-commerce Website, Through Holdings’s Website, its customers are able to purchase individual items or recommended full outfits, shop the latest jewelry, gift or fashion merchandise and special promotions, create a wish list, sign up for its mailing list, connect and follow the Company on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as obtain current information on its boutique locations.

The Company distributes all of its merchandise from its distribution center (located within its corporate headquarters) in Houston, Texas. Holdings’s 1,400 square foot boutiques carry approximately 3,000 stock keeping unit (SKUs) at any one time and it stocks about 15,000 different styles in a year. Majority of its merchandise is sold under its labels (85% of apparel sales, during the fiscal year ended January 30, 2010 (fiscal 2010)).

The Company competes with White House Black Market, Ann Taylor Loft, Charlotte Russe, Brighton Collectibles and Anthropologie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pandora Media (P) looks like a buy

Pandora Media, Inc. (Pandora), incorporated in January 2000, is an Internet radio in the United States. As of January 31, 2011, it had over 80 million registered users. The Music Genome Project and its playlist generating algorithms enable it to deliver personalized radio to its listeners. When a listener enters a single song, artist or genre to start a station, a process it calls seeding, the Music Genome Project together with its playlist generating algorithms, allows it to instantly generate a station. It generates revenue from advertising. It also offers a subscription service to listeners. The Pandora service allows listeners to seed personalized stations with artists, composers, songs and genres or choose stations organized by genre. Listeners can create up to 100 personalized stations and use its QuickMix combination feature to listen to two or more of their stations at one time.

The Company competes with CBS, Clear Channel, Sirius XM, iheartradio,, Slacker Personal Radio, RDIO, Rhapsody, Spotify, Hulu, VEVO, You Tube, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Pandora Media Inc
2101 Webster Street
Oakland CA 94612

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Demand Media (DMD) looks like a buy

  • Demand Media (DMD) changed its name to Leaf Group (LEAF) in 2016.

Demand Media, Inc. (Demand Media), incorporated on March 23, 2006, is focused on an Internet-based model for the professional creation of content at scale. The Company’s business is comprised of two service offerings: Content & Media and Registrar. Demand Media’s Content & Media service offering includes, Content creation studio that identifies, creates and distributes online text articles and videos, utilizing its algorithms, editorial processes and community of freelance content creators; Enterprise-class social media applications that enable Websites to offer features, such as user profiles, comments, forums, reviews, blogs and photo and video sharing, and a system of monetization tools that are designed to match targeted advertisements with content in a manner that optimizes advertising revenue and end user experience. The Company’s Registrar, with over 10 million Internet domain names under management, is a wholesale registrar. As a wholesaler, it provides domain name registration services and offer value-added services to over 7,000 active resellers, including small businesses, large e-commerce Websites, Internet service providers and Web-hosting. In March 2011, the Company acquired CoveritLive. In August 2011, the Company acquired RSS Graffiti. In August 2011, the Company acquired IndieClick.
As of June 30, 2010, Demand Media’s content studio had over 10,000 freelance content creators, who generated a daily average of over 5,700 text articles and videos. The Company generates substantially all of its revenue through the sale of advertising in its Content & Media service offering and through domain name registrations in its Registrar service offering.

Content & Media Metrics
The Company defines page views as the total number of Web pages viewed across its owned and operated Websites and/or its network of customer Websites, including Web pages viewed by consumers on its customers' Websites using its social media tools. Page views are primarily tracked through internal systems, such as its Omniture Web analytics tool, contain estimates for its customer Websites using its social media tools and may use data compiled from certain customer Websites. Demand Media periodically reviews and refines its methodology for monitoring, gathering, and counting page views. The Company defines RPM as Content & Media revenue per one thousand page views.

Registrar Metrics
The Company defines a domain as an individual domain name paid for by a third-party customer where the domain name is managed through its Registrar service offering. This metric does not include any of the Company's owned and operated Websites. Demand Media calculates average revenue per domain by dividing Registrar revenues for a period by the average number of domains registered in that period. The average number of domains is the simple average of the number of domains at the beginning and end of the period. Average revenue per domain for partial year periods is annualized.
The Company competes with AOL, Yahoo!, Jive Software, KickApps, Google, GoDaddy, Tucows and Melbourne IT.

Skullcandy (SKUL) looks like a buy

Skullcandy, Inc., incorporated in 2003, develops and distributes headphones and other audio accessories to retailers throughout the United States and to distributors in various countries worldwide. The Company is an audio brand that reflects the collision of the music, fashion and action sports lifestyles. The Company is engaged in the distribution of headphones in specialty retailers focused on action sports and the youth lifestyle, such as Zumiez, Tilly’s and hundreds of independent snow, skate and surf retailers. It distributes through consumer electronics, mass, sporting goods and mobile phone retailers, such as Best Buy, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods and AT&T Wireless. Skullcandy products are also sold through its Website. As of September 30, 2010, its product offering had over 1,200 SKUs across a range of categories, including headphones as well as speaker docks, mobile device cases, apparel and other accessories. Its headphone products include in ear, on ear, over ear and gaming. In August 2011, the Company acquired Kungsbacka 57 AB.

The Company’s product line include dB Collecti; Mobility Collectio, which targets mobile channel with product features designed to work on cell phones and smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone, and 2XL, which represents traditional sports, motor sports and rock and roll music. The Company sponsors athletes, disc jockeys (DJs), musicians, artists and events within all areas of action sports and the indie and hip-hop music genres. Through its Websites, and visitors can view videos, listen to music by its sponsored artists, read blog updates on events, athletes, DJs, musicians and artists, and shop for its products. In August 2010, the Company entered into a three-year contract with UPS Supply Chain Solutions, a third party supply chain provider, for use of their distribution facility in Auburn, Washington.
The Company competes with Sony, JVC, Bose, Beats by Dr. Dre, Nixon, adidas, Nike, Sennheiser and Phillips.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Carlyle files for a $100 mln IPO

Global private equity firm Caryle has filed a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common units.

The announcement ends a long period of speculation as to when the firm would join other publicly listed private equity investors such as Blackstone and KKR.

Carlyle said it intends to use the proceeds to repay debt and for general corporate purposes, growth initiatives, acquisitions and strategic investments. It will also be used to fund capital commitments associated with its various investment vehicles.

The number of common units to be offered and the price range for the offering have yet to be determined, the firm said, but is thought to be around $100m. JP Morgan Securities, Citigroup Global Markets and Credit Suisse Securities will serve as joint book-running managers for the offering.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

LCNB Corporation (LCNB) started trading on the NASDAQ

LCNB Corp. (LCNB) is a financial holding company. Through its subsidiaries, LCNB National Bank (the Bank) and Dakin Insurance Agency, Inc. (Dakin), LCNB is engaged in the commercial banking and insurance agency businesses. The Bank provides full banking services, including trust and brokerage services, to customers in the Southwestern Ohio area of Warren, Butler, and Clinton Counties and portions of Clermont, Hamilton and Montgomery Counties. Dakin offers a range of insurance products for businesses and individuals in the Bank's primary market area. The Bank operates 30 automated teller machines (ATMs) in its market area.