Today: Emeryville video-ad company TubeMogul slashes its opening price, then sees shares soar more than 60 percent in market debut. Also, tech stocks end the week strongly -- except for AMD.
The lead: TubeMogul soars in debut
TubeMogul sprinted out of the gate Friday in its first day of public trading, soaring more than 64 percent and closing at $11.50.
The results were even more impressive considering how the Emeryville-based video advertising company significantly lowered its IPO expectations Thursday, slashing its opening price from the $11- to $13-a-share range to just $7. TubeMogul had hoped to raise up to $90 million, but at $7 a share had to be satisfied with $43.75 million.
It's been a wild ride for the tech IPO market over the past few months. After a miserable start in April, a string of successful debuts by Silicon Valley companies in May and June -- including those of GoPro and Arista Networks -- helped make the quarter the best for IPOs since late 2007. But a warning earlier this week by the Fed that biotech and social-media stocks appear overvalued threw cold water on the market and helped lead TubeMogul and fellow market rookie CareDX, a Brisbane-based biotech, to significantly lower their initial price targets. CareDX, which debuted Thursday, dropped its opening price from the $15-to-$17 range to $10, but closed at just $9.05 Thursday. On Friday it managed to peek above its debut price, closing at $10.
Playing it conservatively was apparently the right choice for TubeMogul. "For us to come out and do so well in these conditions shows what a strong company we are," TubeMogul co-founder and CEO Brett Wilson told the Merc's Heather Somerville in an interview Friday. Wilson said he kept in mind the travails of TubeMogul's video-ad competitors when setting the initial price to bargain-basement levels.
The company's two main rivals, Redwood City-based YuMe and New York-based Tremor Video, have seen their shares steadily sink over the past year. YuMe went public last fall after slashing its opening price from the $12-to-$14 range to $9, but has struggled to maintain even that, closing Friday at $6.20. Tremor closed Friday at $3.77, after debuting at $10 last July. Both rode TubeMogul's coattails for a nice bump Friday though, with YuMe surging 4.4 percent and Tremor up 1.3 percent for the day.
Wilson told the Silicon Valley Business Journal he was "surprised by the distaste that some investors have for the digital advertising technology sector," as he tried to navigate TubeMogul's course in the run-up to its IPO.
A lack of tech-savviness among investors doesn't help. "It's difficult to explain to most investors what ad tech business models are, let alone how rapidly they're changing and what differentiates one company from another," Pivotal Research alanyst Brian Wieser told the Wall Street Journal.
TubeMogul insists its business model is different -- and better -- than its rivals. The company saw its revenues explode 256 percent from 2012 to 2013, to $57.1 million, but its losses more than doubled too. For the first quarter of this year, though, losses had slowed by 60 percent to $767,000, and revenue was $22 million -- four times what it was the previous year.
"When I look at (TubeMogul's) numbers, I believe they'll be going cashflow positive soon," Mike Vorhaus, president of research and consulting fifm Magid Advisors, told Ad Age.
SV150 market report: Great day for pretty much everyone -- except AMD
After taking a beating Thursday, tech stocks rebounded strongly Friday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumping 1.6 percent and the Silicon Valley 150 rising 1.7 percent.
That came despite the pummeling Advanced Micro Devices took. The Sunnyvale chipmaker plunged more than 16 percent, or 74 cents, to close at $3.83, a day after reporting weak second-quarter earnings and a disappointing projection of third-quarter sales. Calling the results "absolutely woeful," Bernstein Research analyst Stacy Rasgon wrote, "at this point, it's becoming (or should be becoming) glaringly obvious that the company's PC position is getting increasingly tenuous."
Silicon Valley's biggest companies more than made up for AMD, however. Google shares rose more than 4 percent, up $24.29 to $605.11, a day after posting revenue and sales gains that beat Wall Street's expectations. Google also settled an issue of contention wih European regulators, announcing it would not advertise games that offer in-app purchases as "free" and would implement other measures to prevent kids from racking up charges on their parents' bills. The European Commission chided Apple for not taking the same steps yet. Apple defended its policy, and said its upcoming iOS 8 would feature even more protection and controls over apps. Shares in the Cupertino tech giant rose 1.4 percent, or $1.34, to $94.43.
Palo Alto electric carmaker Tesla Motors rose 2.1 percent, or $4.62, to $220.02, on high hopes for future gains in China. Facebook surged 3 percent, or $2.01, to $68.42, a day after the Menlo Park social network announcing it was testing a "buy" button on sponsored ads, a move that could further drive its ad sales. Foster City biotech Gilead Sciences leaped 4.8 percent, or $4.12, to $89.19, after several analysts reiterated their strong outlook on sales of the anti-hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, despite criticism over its high price.
Silicon Valley tech stocks
Up: Apple, Google, Oracle, Cisco, HP, eBay, Gilead, VMware, Yahoo, Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tesla, Twitter
Down: AMD, Zynga
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's biggest companies: Up 25.04, or 1.66 percent, to 1,532.08
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 68.70 , or 1.57 percent, to 4,432.15.
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 123.37 or 0.73 percent, to 17,100.18.
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 20.10, or 1.03 percent, to 1,978.22.
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Follow Mike Murphy on Twitter at twitter.com/mmmmurf.