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2013 Tech IPOs: Flashes in the Pan

Daniel Sweet

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tech IPOs are back on tap for 2013, but perhaps not in the exact way you might have expected.

With three months and the first quarter of 2013 in the books, technology contributed four of the 31 new issues for the quarter: Marin Software ; Model N ; Silver Spring Networks ; and Xoom Corp. . The results, which you can see in the table below, are surprising.

What is the common thread? Buy-and-hold hasn't exactly been the best investment strategy. Impressive initial returns quickly morphed into "highfliers" running out of gas.

The initial demand for these tech IPOs was tremendous. They were oversubscribed, and there were rumors that one was oversubscribed an astonishing 16 times.

So what exactly is the problem? Institutional investors are lining up to participate in these hot deals and are swallowing the lion's share of the initial issuance.

They are booking profits, and they are booking them early. It is not uncommon to see the entire deal size flipped on the first day (i.e., 5 million shares issued and a volume of 5 million-plus shares traded on day one).

Institutions view these companies as opportunities for quick profits, not as long-term investments.

The bottom line is that these companies are unproven. Their income statements reveal that they are effective at growing top-line revenue, but ineffective at generating profit.

Once the initial IPO hype subsided, the market took a wait-and-see approach, and the stocks have traded back to a more reasonable level.

Wall Street is searching for the next Workday IPO, and it hasn't arrived ... yet.

-- Written by Daniel Sweet, a partner at IPO Boutique.

At the time of publication the author had a small long position in MRIN. IPO Boutique has no position in stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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