Dunkin’ Brands’ 20-Year Plan

Jan 4, 2012, 1:35 pm EDT
Dunkin’ Brands’ 20-Year Plan

When Dunkin’ Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN) went public in mid-July, investors piled on as the stock price shot up by 46.6%. But as is common with hot IPOs, the enthusiasm quickly subsided (the travails in Europe were certainly a factor). The aftermarket return is now -11.2%.

But the management of Dunkin’ really does not want to focus on short-term noise. In fact, it is looking at projections for the next 20 years! That’s right — the company’s leadership believes the U.S. store count will more than double, to 15,000.

In today’s hyperactive world, it’s reassuring to see a company take such long view of things. But in the case of Dunkin’, it does seem a bit ridiculous. Is it realistic to know where the world will be in two decades? Forecasters can barely get a sense of what the trends will be for the next couple of years. Read 

Could a Good Economy Hurt Groupon?

Jan 4, 2012, 12:38 pm EDT
Could a Good Economy Hurt Groupon?

It was not a good way to start off the New Year. In yesterday’s trading, Groupon’s (NASDAQ:GRPN) stock fell 6.6%, to $19.27. In fact, it’s off an additional 3% in today’s trading.

The drop came on reports of a survey from Susquehanna and Yipit, which is a daily-deal aggregator. Based on the responses from nearly 400 merchants, about 52% say they will not use the daily-deal service during the next six months. This is the case even though 80% still like Groupon.

It’s not clear why merchants are pulling back. Perhaps it could be because of the lack of customer loyalty. Hey, if you’re providing 90% discounts, do these customers really care about coming back to your store? Probably not. This is certainly a big problem since the huge discounts are really a form of marketing. Read 

Venture Capitalists Cooling Their Heels

Jan 4, 2012, 10:53 am EDT

I recently talked to an entrepreneur and asked him how much his company raised in venture capital financing. I thought he said $50 million, but he corrected me — it was $15 million.

It sounded low, considering I was getting used to hearing about $50 million-plus rounds. Probably just another sign of the bubbly vibe in Silicon Valley.

But now, it looks like that fervor is cooling off. Perhaps the main reason is that VC deals have not fared particularly well in terms of acquisitions and IPOs. According to a recent piece in the IPOPlaybook, I pointed out that the average return for social public offerings last year came to a sorry -29%. Even top-notch players like Pandora (NYSE:P), LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) and Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) have seen double-digit declines. Read 

Angie’s List Gets Little Love From Analysts

Jan 3, 2012, 2:19 pm EDT
Angie’s List Gets Little Love From Analysts

When it comes to IPOs, there are several arcane rules. One is the “quiet period,” which requires that a company’s insiders and underwriters not make any forward-looking comments about its IPO. But once it expires at the end of 40 days from its offering, you’ll typically see plenty of analyst recommendations.

While they typically glow, there are some exceptions. Just look at Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN). In mid-December, when Groupon’s quiet period expired, the company’s analysts issued recommendations that ranged from neutral to sector perform to hold.

This should have been a red flag for investors. Let’s face it: Wall Street analysts don’t like to cause too much rancor with big companies because it could mean losing future investment banking fees, such as for secondaries and acquisitions. In the case of Groupon, its stock fell 13% after the recommendations. Read 

Social IPOs for 2011: $32.7 Billion in Value

Jan 3, 2012, 1:26 pm EDT

Going into 2011, it looked like the markets were poised for an explosion of social IPOs. In January, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) arranged a $1.5 billion investment in Facebook — at a whopping $50 billion valuation. Nice way to rev things up, right?

It was also a nice boost for LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD). In mid-May, the company priced its IPO at $45 a share, raising a cool $353 million. On its first day of trading, the stock soared 109%.

Yet by July, the environment suddenly got hostile. A big problem was the budget fight on Capitol Hill. There was also the crisis in Europe. These factors were enough to delay major IPOs, including those for Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) and Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA). Read 

Edgen Tapping an IPO for More Energy

Jan 3, 2012, 11:19 am EDT
Edgen Tapping an IPO for More Energy

Between the Internet and mobile technologies, it looks like distributors are an endangered species. But the fact is there still are many growth opportunities in the business.

One example is Edgen, a company focused on the energy sector that recently filed to go public in hopes of raising as much as $100 million. Edgen’s underwriters include Jefferies (NYSE:JEF), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Citigroup (NYSE:C), and the proposed ticker symbol is “EDG,” which likely will list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Edgen’s distribution network includes steel pipes, valves and heavy plates. Its focus is on premium offerings, which often are for mission-critical applications. Read 

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