IPO? Maybe next year, or … or …

Initial public offerings, of course, aren’t exactly catching fire in 2008. Nearly twice as many IPOs have been withdrawn or postponed year-to-date (80) as have been completed (just 43 globally), according to Renaissance Capital‘s IPO Home research through October 15. The lucky companies sold shares in January or February. Around the Ides of March, things got ugly with the demise of Bear Stearns – and they haven’t improved.

Not only is the number of IPOs down 77% from a year earlier, the dollar volume is off, too. IPO Home estimates $27.8 billion worth of IPOs have priced so far in 2008, less than half the 2007 total. And close to two-thirds of the $27.8 this year came from one giant offering: Visa, back in March. Only one IPO other than Visa topped a billion dollars, and the median of the 43 offerings listed by IPO Home was $157 million.

There’s always next year. Or, if the last IPO drought is an indication, maybe 2011. Quality deals may still make it, but simplicity and a well-defined risk profile will be cornerstones of IPO stories for awhile.

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