Qualys: a quality offering at a tough time

Contact: Brenon Daly

Continuing a run of enterprise-focused IT security IPOs, Qualys has set an initial range of $11-13 per share for its upcoming offering. The range would value the on-demand vulnerability management vendor a bit above $400m, a rather conservative valuation for a company that will record bookings of more than $100m this year. We understand that Qualys will price its offering in two weeks, and we wouldn’t at all be surprised to see it debut at a price in the mid-teens. J.P. Morgan Securities and Credit Suisse Securities are co-leading the offering.

The IPO of Qualys would mark the fourth enterprise IT security provider to hit the market in the past year, following Imperva, Proofpoint and Palo Alto Networks. That makes this particular slice of the tech landscape the most active – and most lucrative – area for IPOs. Collectively, the quartet – including the roughly half-billion-dollar initial market cap we project for Qualys at its debut – will have created about $6bn in market value.

Two-thirds of that amount comes from the wildly successful IPO of Palo Alto Networks. But we would note that Imperva and Proofpoint have been fairly well received on Wall Street, with both offerings trading above water. That stands in contrast to the loosely related consumer security companies and, even more broadly, the overall IPO market, which is highly skeptical of new offerings as a number of recent high-profile IPOs have turned out to be big money losers for investors.

For instance, shares of consumer Internet security provider AVG Technologies have broken issue and are currently changing hands at nearly their lowest level since the company debuted in February. AVG’s woeful performance contributed to the decision by AVAST Software, a similar consumer Internet security provider, to pull its IPO in late July.

Undoubtedly, the bearishness around the consumer security market is weighing on the offering from Qualys. However, we suspect that pressure will be relatively short-lived for Qualys, and the company will enjoy the same strong aftermarket performance of other recent enterprise security IPOs.

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