Japan’s market for initial public offerings have not been this hot since the dot-com bubble two decades ago
- The average initial pop for IPOs in the Japanese market this year was nearly 130 per cent, the most since 1999
- The best performer was artificial-intelligence systems firm Headwaters, which jumped 1,090 per cent in its first trade
The average initial pop for IPOs in the Japanese market this year was nearly 130 per cent, the most since 1999. The best performer was artificial-intelligence systems firm Headwaters, which jumped 1,090 per cent in its first trade. Image-recognition software maker Ficha came second with an 806 per cent gain, followed by internet-of-things developer Tasuki, which rose 655 per cent.
Backed by easy-money policies and growth in individual investing, new listing markets have been frothy this year despite the coronavirus market turmoil, as seen in the dramatic gains of Airbnb and DoorDash in US debuts earlier this month. Stay-at-home tech plays and cloud computing upstarts especially found 2020 to be the perfect time to tap the public markets.
“The reason for the large opening gains is that there were many IPOs of stocks that were relevant to the times,” such as Japan’s digitalisation push, said Hideyuki Suzuki, a general manager at SBI Securities. With low interest rates expected to continue for some time, the IPO market should continue to attract funds, he said.
A total of 94 companies went public in Japan in 2020, up by four from the previous year, even with a pandemic-driven drought from early April to late June. About 70 per cent were listed on Mothers.
Toshiba-affiliated chip maker Kioxia Holdings decided in September to postpone what would have been Japan’s largest offering of the year, at up to US$2.9 billion, due to market uncertainty amid US-China trade friction. That made mushroom cultivator Yukiguni Maitake, which raised US$409 million, the biggest Tokyo IPO of 2020, followed by musical instruments maker Roland and business consulting provider Direct Marketing MiX.
In the absence of blockbuster deals with international appeal, local retail traders helped pick up the slack. Individuals accounted for 20 per cent of total trading value on the Tokyo Stock Exchange this year, up from about 16 per cent in 2019.
“IPOs have helped drive retail investor turnover,” said Shoichi Arisawa, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities. “It’s helped money come back to growth stocks and given life to the start-up market.”
In 2021, investors will be watching whether Kioxia decides to try its luck again. So far one company has announced IPO plans for next year, with laser-based chip solutions firm QD Laser planning to list in February.