This week is a big test for the IPO market

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Investors have shown rabid enthusiasm for new stocks this September. That’s forced some strategists to wonder: Is this a repeat of the frenzy that led up to the dot-com crash at the turn of the millennium?



graphical user interface, application: Peter Thiel, co-founder and chairman of Palantir Technologies Inc., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. The billionaire entrepreneur was in Japan to unveil a $150 million, 50-50 joint venture with local financial services firm Sompo Holdings Inc. Palantir Technologies Japan Co. will target government and public sector customers, emphasizing health and cybersecurity initially. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images


© Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Peter Thiel, co-founder and chairman of Palantir Technologies Inc., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. The billionaire entrepreneur was in Japan to unveil a $150 million, 50-50 joint venture with local financial services firm Sompo Holdings Inc. Palantir Technologies Japan Co. will target government and public sector customers, emphasizing health and cybersecurity initially. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What’s happening: Globally, it’s been a blockbuster month for initial public offerings, with deals worth $38.2 billion listing on exchanges, according to Dealogic. That’s the biggest September by value on record.

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Mike Novogratz, founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital Holdings, said there’s a big imbalance right now in supply and demand, given how many new offerings are coming to market during a period of high insider selling.

“You’ve all kinds of signs we’re [in] some speculative mania,” Novogratz said on CNN Business’ “Markets Now” live show. “It does feel like 1999.”

One example: Some analysts have flagged concerns about Palantir, the secretive Silicon Valley data analytics company cofounded by Peter Thiel that’s due to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange this Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company could be valued at nearly $22 billion in its trading debut. That’s a hefty valuation for a company that’s never turned a profit.

Workplace app Asana, which is also due to list shares Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, is generating lots of conversation, too.

New listings, particularly in the tech sector, have been of such interest even during the pandemic because investors have few other places to park their cash and generate serious returns, according to Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

See here: Snowflake, a cloud data warehousing firm that went public earlier this month, has seen shares skyrocket more than 90% above its $120 IPO price.

“We’ve got all this money washing around because of the huge stimulus we’ve seen by central banks — it’s almost like people don’t know where else to put their money,” Streeter told me, cautioning that investors should keep their portfolios diversified. “Obviously, there’s no guarantee prices are going to keep going up.”

You should know this $200 billion company

When Jack Ma launched an obscure payment service to boost his online shopping empire 16 years ago, few expected it to succeed. Now that service forms the backbone of Ant Group, a financial behemoth that could be worth more than $200 billion, my CNN Business colleague Sherisse Pham reports.

Named after a bug because of its founder’s belief that “small is powerful,” Ant Group is anything but tiny in China. It’s gearing up for a highly anticipated public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai that could mark the second time Ma sets a record for the biggest IPO ever.

“Ant Group really is the crown jewel of Jack Ma and … of China’s internet industry,” Edith Yeung, general partner at Race Capital, told Sherisse.

The pitch: It is one of the biggest tech firms in the world and the biggest online payments platform in China. The app has established its presence in every aspect of financial life in the country, from investment accounts and micro savings products to insurance, credit scores and even dating profiles.

But it all started out as a side project. Back in 2004, very few people in China had debit or credit cards, and buyers and sellers using Alibaba’s e-commerce platform needed a reliable way to handle payments.

Ma tasked Alibaba’s finance team to create Alipay. The service would act as a trusted third party, holding money from buyers in escrow and only releasing it to sellers after the goods had been received and buyers confirmed they were happy with what they got.

“When I started [Alipay], everyone said: ‘Jack, this is the most stupid model we’ve ever seen, nobody will use it,'” Ma said in a 2014 interview on “60 Minutes.”

Fast forward: Today, Alipay has 711 million monthly active users, and it handled 118 trillion yuan ($17.2 trillion) in payments in the 12 months through June.

Up next

Monday: Another round of Brexit negotiations kicks off

Tuesday: First US presidential debate; US consumer confidence; Micron earnings

Wednesday: Palantir and Asana start trading on NYSE; ADP employment report

Thursday: US personal income and spending data; ISM Manufacturing Index; Initial US jobless claims; Bed Bath & Beyond, Constellation Brands and PepsiCo earnings

Friday: US jobs report

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