The markets may be volatile – but this hasn’t stopped IPOs. According to Renaissance Capital, the first quarter saw the largest amount raised by newly public companies since 2014. In all, 43 companies raised a hefty $15.6 billion.
Yet there were still some notable duds. Just look at ADT Inc (NYSE:ADT), which is the leading home and business security provider. On its debut, the shares dropped by 11.5%. However, this would not be the end of it. Keep in mind that ADT stock went on to lose a grueling 46%.
Although, such moves are really one-offs.
OK, then what are the standout new IPOs for Q1? Let’s take a look at five:
Best IPOs for Q1: ARMO Biosciences (ARMO)
Among the new IPOs this year, ARMO Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ:ARMO) is the top performer, with a return of 138%. This late-stage bio tech firm is focused on the immuno-oncology market, which is certainly a red-hot. Recently there have been mega M&A deals, such as for Kite Pharma, Inc. and Juno Therapeutics.
As for ARMO, its lead product is AM0010, which is a long-acting form of human Interleukin-10. The target is on a particular white blood cell, which has shown an ability to recognize and kill cancer cells. The treatment is currently in Phase 1/1b clinical trials (there are over 350 cancer patients who have 14 different types of cancers).
But the company has other promising candidates. For example, there is SEQUOIA, which is in Phase 3 clinical trials. The focus is for the treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).
Best IPOs for Q1: Zscaler
Zscaler, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZS), which came public in mid-March, has posted a gain of 106%. Founded in 2008, the company is a next-generation developer of cybersecurity technologies.
Zscaler’s platform essentially helps customers deal with the challenges of cloud and mobile adoption. To do this, the technology architecture involves connecting the right user to the right application, regardless of the network. This means there is no need for expensive and complex on-premise security appliances.
The Zscaler system has enormous scale, with distribution across more than 100 data centers across the world. On a daily basis, more than 100 million threats are blocked.
As for the growth of Zscaler, it has been robust. From 2015 to 2017, revenues jumped from $53.7 million to $125.7 million. There are currently more than 2,800 customers and over 200 are on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Best IPOs for Q1: Menlo Therapeutics (MNLO)
Menlo Therapeutics (NASDAQ:MNLO) is focused on serlopitant, which is a treatment for pruritus. This involves such dermatologic ailments as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and prurigo nodularis. In fact, there are no drugs that have been approved in the US for these conditions.
MNLO has finished two Phase 2 clinical trials with over 380 patients with pruritus. And so far, the results have shown material improvement.
And yes, the opportunity is quite large. Over 35 million patients in the US suffer from atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or prurigo nodularis.
In light of all this, it should be no surprise that Wall Street has bid up the shares of MNLO. Note that the gains have come to 118% since late January.
Best IPOs for Q1: Dropbox
Back in 2007, MIT student Drew Houston was frustrated with his USB flash drive. He knew there had to be a better way. So he went on to code a cloud-based storage system, which became Dropbox Inc. (NASDAQ:DBX).
As of now, the company has a valuation of $12 billion, with revenues of over $1 billion. True, the company is still losing money on a GAAP basis. Yet DBX has been able to generate strong cash flows.
Even more impressive, the company has been able to fend off tough rivals, such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL). These companies not only have massive resources but also the ability to sell storage services at cut-rate levels.
However, the market for storage services is massive. According to IDC, the spending is forecasted to be over $50 billion by 2019.
Besides, Dropbox has been smart to expand into the enterprise market, which allows for much larger deals. Last year, over than 40% of new Dropbox Business teams involved a member who was a subscriber to an individual paid plan.
Best IPOs for Q1: PagSeguro Digital (PAGS)
For the 2018 IPOs, PagSeguro Digital Ltd. (NYSE:PAGS) pulled off a big-time capital raise. In late January, the company raised $2.3 billion and the stock jumped 33% on its first day of trading.
No doubt, PAGS has a bold mission — that is, to “disrupt and democratize financial services in Brazil.”
The main customers include small and mid-size merchants, which have been generally underserved by traditional financial institutions. And the services include digital payments, POS systems and prepaid cards.
A key part of the success for PAGS has been its parent company, UOL. This company, which was founded in 1996, is Brazil’s largest Internet and services company, with 81.2 million MAUs (Monthly Active Users).
As for PAGS, its active merchant base is roughly 1.4 million, up from 1.2 million on a year-over-year basis. And during the first nine months of this year, the total payment volume went from $9.3 billion to $24.8 billion (in Brazil’s own currency).
There is also much more room for growth. After all, Brazil has the largest economy in South America and the penetration rates for digital payments and debit cards remain fairly low.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.