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IPO drought likely to parch housing finance firms, analysts say

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As the IPO market slows to a crawl, companies in the housing and finance business are likely to step to the sidelines for the next few weeks along with most other firms eyeing the public markets, analysts said. “It is no surprise that the IPO calendar gets derailed when equity markets are extremely volatile,” said Kathleen S. Smith, a principal with IPO research specialist Renaissance Capital Inc. Eight of the 12 initial public offerings scheduled to be priced this week have officially postponed their debuts, and the others are expected to hold off as well, said James Krapfel, an analyst with Morningstar Inc. (MORN), a Chicago-based investment research company. “We believe the IPO market as a whole will be dormant for the next few weeks, until the market stabilizes,” said Krapfel. Investors will need to see more positive economic data before they shake the jitters and become risk tolerant enough to give a positive reception to IPOs, he said. HomeStreet Inc., a community bank based in Seattle and serving the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, was one of the companies officially postponing its public offering this week. The bank was slated to raise as much as $187 million in an offering of 7.8 million shares priced between $22 and $24. “They’ll have a little more difficult time coming to market,” said Krapfel, “given that the proceeds they expect to raise are to be used to fund activities to meet capital ratio requirements. The market really is not going to reward companies that have weak business models or weak financials.” Midland States Bancorp, a bank holding company in Illinois that was scheduled to go public this week, will probably also hold off, he added. Real estate website Trulia Inc. could buck the trend, though, Krapfel speculated. “Given the success of Zillow, they may feel more tempted to (go public) sooner rather than later despite the market’s downdraft recently,” he said. Zillow Inc., (Z) a competitor real estate website that went public in July, priced at $20 and traded as high as $60 its first day. Shares are now trading around $27. The market could shift back within a couple of months, though, said Smith of Renaissance Capital: “We would expect the IPO activity to resume as of the end of September and only the strongest and most attractively valued issuers will lead the pack.” Write to Liz Enochs.

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