InronPlanet throws its IPO paperwork on the scrap heap

Contact: Brenon Daly

The road to the public market is turning into a dead end for an increasing number of companies. IronPlanet has pulled its IPO paperwork, just days after AVAST Software also scrapped its planned offering. The two companies operate in wildly different markets, with IronPlanet serving as an online marketplace for industrial machinery and AVAST selling security software to consumers. While both cited ‘market conditions’ as the reason for their withdrawals, it’s a bit of a stretch to see it applied to both.

In the case of AVAST, the company almost certainly could have gotten public, if it were willing to take a bit of a discount on its pricing. (AVAST, which was growing at about 40% annually and richly profitable, was nonetheless dinged by concerns over its focus on the consumer, rather than enterprise, market as well as a less-than-robust IPO by fellow European security software provider AVG Technologies.) But rather than cut its value to convince investors to buy into the offering, AVAST will stay private until ‘market conditions’ change.

On the other hand, IronPlanet won’t make it to the Nasdaq anytime soon. Although the company filed its prospectus in March 2010, it hadn’t updated its financials in more than a year. And the numbers it revealed then would have gotten it roughed up on Wall Street. In 2010 (the latest full-year results available), IronPlanet grew just 7%, down from 56% in 2009. (The paltry growth rate continued in the first half of 2011, too.) Meanwhile, IronPlanet has swung to a loss after posting black numbers in the past. That’s clearly not the profile of a company that will appeal to investors, particularly ones that have been burned on their investments in recent IPOs that have posted slowing growth and declining margins.

For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @MAKnowledgebase.