Pinterest IPO: $12.7BN valuation exceeds expectations

By Reuters News Agency. Published at Apr 18, 2019, in Features

Pinterest Inc's initial public offering set the online scrapbook company's valuation at $12.7 billion on Wednesday, above its expectations and a sign of strength for the tech IPO market after Lyft Inc's struggles writes Joshua Franklin.

Pinterest, where users save ideas for clothes, décor and recipes, is due to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Its performance will be a key test of the tech IPO market after the Nasdaq debut of ride-hailing start-up Lyft at the end of last month.

Lyft raised more than it had set out to do when it went public, but shares have dropped around 17 percent from its IPO price, raising concerns about bigger rival Uber Technologies Inc <IPO-UBER.N> when it prices its IPO next month.

A key difference between Pinterest and Lyft however were their valuation expectations. Lyft, which lost $911 million last year, was seeking a valuation of up to $24.3 billion in its IPO, higher than the $15 billion valuation it attained in its latest private fundraising round in 2018. Pinterest lost $63 million in 2018.

Pinterest's initial $15-$17 per share target range target range had set it on course to be valued below its last private fundraising valuation of $12.3 billion in 2017.

At $19 per share, Pinterest, which offers advertisers a venue to sell to consumers, raised around $1.4 billion at a roughly $12.7 billion valuation.

The fact that Pinterest attained a higher valuation in the IPO will be a relief to investors who participated in prior fundraising rounds and gives some vindication to the company ahead of its public market debut on Thursday.

Here is some pre-IPO analysis.

Pinterest is also the most high-profile listing of a U.S. social media company since Snap Inc in 2017. Snap's stock also priced well in its IPO but is now down more than 30 percent below its IPO price.

Other IPOs this year, such as cloud computing company PagerDuty Inc and jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co have also traded above their IPO prices since going public.

Investors in IPOs typically expect new companies to outperform the broader market. Renaissance Capital's IPO exchange traded fund is up 30 percent so far in 2019, compared with a 15.7 percent rise in the benchmark S&P 500 Index .

IPOs of Pinterest and other such loss-making unicorns -- startup companies with valuations of at least $1 billion -- have presented a predicament for investors sitting on the fence. They do not want to miss out on popular companies with fast growth, but at the same time have to weigh the risks of businesses with unproven economics.

Pinterest will trade under the symbol "PINS". Goldman Sachs & Co LLC, JPMorgan and Allen & Company are the lead underwriters on the Pinterest IPO.

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