Luckin Coffee, a quickly growing and deeply unprofitable China-based coffee group, sold 33 million shares at $17 each in its debut. Fastly, a company that powers the distribution of Internet content, sold 11.25 million shares for $16 apiece.
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The twin pricings were expected. Both companies will begin to trade Friday morning. However, instead of kicking off their lives as a public company in their own sunlight, they will debut under two shadows.
First, Uber’s post-IPO troubles are now infamous. You can’t demand as much as attention as Uber has over time, and then fail to measure up to your own hype. And, second, Pinterest’s first earnings report as a public company did not go as well as expected, sending its shares down sharply in after-hours trading.
So, not the easiest moment to go public for any firm, but Fastly and Luckin are going out all the same. If it’s time, it is time.
That Luckin is going public at the top of its range is a good thing. Why? It consumes lots of cash.
Luckin sold 33 million shares in its IPO, not 30 million as initially intended. So, discounting the underwriter’s option, Luckin raised $561 million (gross). That’s a lot of money for a company founded in just 2017.
When Luckin first indicated its IPO price range, we doodled up a chart of what the firm could raise in its offering. Recall the scale of those initial estimates compared to the firm’s prior rounds:
So no matter where it priced, Luckin was set for a record single-serving haul of capital.
Which is for the best, as Luckin torched $93.5 million in the first quarter of 2019. In all of 2018 its operations consumed $195.3 million. The big numbers continue, with the firm’s Q1 2019 loss coming in at $82.2 million. It’s full-year 2018 loss was a steeper $241.3 million.
Fastly’s pricing has a slightly different vibe to it than Luckin’s. The firm isn’t growing as quickly, nor is it as cash-hungry. With smaller losses, Fastly doesn’t have the same capital needs.
But pricing at the top of its range is still a welcome result. It goes to show that firms growing at less than 50 percent that still lose money can find a reasonable response from the public markets. For a lot of other firms looking to debut, that’s good news.
The IPO parade is stretching longer with each passing day (hello, Fiverr), making Fastly’s success good news. And since the market just saw Lyft, Uber, and Pinterest stumble in quick succession, the good news is welcome.
Next up for each company is first-trading. More on that shortly!
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.