However, over the years, IPO rallies have often fizzled quickly. Just look at the disappointments with the offerings from companies like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN).
But maybe this time around could be different, right?
Actually, I think so. First of all, it looks like we may be in the middle of a sustainable bull market. With interest rates at rock-bottom levels, investors have little choice but to seek out equities as a way to get higher returns.
There are also other encouraging signs. For example, it looks like the federal government is taking action to cut back on the deficit; Europe keeps making moves to get things back on track; the U.S. real estate market appears to be in the early stages of a massive turnaround; and the banking system is fairly solid.
Perhaps this accounts for the recent spike in mergers and acquisitions, such as Warren Buffett’s $23 billion deal for Heinz (NYSE:HNZ), Liberty Global’s (NASDAQ:LBTYA) proposed $16 billion plan to buy Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) and Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) agreement to shell out $16.7 billion for the rest of NBCUniversal it doesn’t already own. All in all, CEOs are getting their confidence back (InvestorPlace Editor Jeff Reeves has an excellent post on why all these buyouts could be bullish).
But a rip-roaring bull market isn’t enough to spark a true return of IPOs. Some type of secular trend needs to power the new offering market — a role the Internet played back in the 1990s’ IPO boom.
Well, three megatrends now underway could fill that need. Here’s a look:
This technology allows companies to access applications via the Internet. The approach tends to be cheaper than traditional software applications because it eliminates the need to buy servers or to hire armies of consultants. There are also benefits in terms of access to real-time data.
But it’s a good bet more and more deals will hit the market. According to IDC, the cloud market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 24%, going from $23 billion in 2011 to $67 billion by 2016.
According to Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), the world will have more mobile devices than people in 2013. In fact, data traffic is expected to surge about 13x by 2017, with more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices.
This is certainly great news for early-stage companies, such as app developers, mobile ad platforms and infrastructure operators. Hey, just look at Ruckus Wireless (NYSE:RKUS), which is a provider of Wi-Fi gear. The company came public in mid-November, and the shares have since gone up about 51%.
Other newly public companies are transforming their businesses with mobile, such as Trulia (NYSE:TRLA) and Zillow (NASDAQ:Z). Both have built cutting-edge mobile apps, which have propelled their businesses. Since their IPOs, Trulia is up 80% and Zillow has gained 112%.
This megatrend is in turn getting powered by the rise of the cloud and mobile devices, two markets that are generating huge amounts of data. So with new Big Data technologies, it will be possible to create new applications to mine it.
According to Transparency Market Research, the Big Data tech market is expected to go from $6.3 billion in 2012 to $48.3 billion in 2018. That’s an annual growth rate of 40.5%.
The only Big Data operator to hit the IPO market so far is Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK), which has gained 106%. But lots of deals are likely over the next few years. Keep in mind that VCs have been investing aggressively in startups such as GoodData, Cloudera and QlikTech.
OK, nothing is guaranteed, especially with the IPO market. If broader markets do plunge, then the momentum will come to a screeching halt.
But the fact remains that the key ingredients are in place for a boom: a healthy bull market and the emergence of several megatrends. And so far, it looks like investors are already revving things up.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of “How to Create the Next Facebook” and “High-Profit IPO Strategies: Finding Breakout IPOs for Investors and Traders.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.