Online retailer Wish falls in 2020’s worst debut for big U.S. IPO

Online retailer Wish fell 16% in its trading debut Wednesday, in a more muted start to life as a public company than for DoorDash and Airbnb last week.

Shares of Wish opened at $22.75 apiece, below the $24 they were sold for in its $1.1 billion initial public offering. The shares closed at $20.05, giving the company a value of at roughly $14 billion on a fully diluted basis, which includes options and restricted stock units as well as the outstanding shares listed in its filings.

Wish, the 31st on a U.S. exchange to exceed $1 billion this year, scored the worst debut of that group, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its listing follows last week’s blockbuster trading debuts by DoorDash and Airbnb. DoorDash soared 86% after its $3.14 billion offering, while Airbnb closed its first day up 113% after a $3.83 billion IPO including so-called greenshoe shares.

Market volatility should be expected in the first few days and weeks of trading and won’t detract from the company’s long-term focus on serving bargain-hunters on a site designed for shopper discovery, Peter Szulczewski, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Wish parent ContextLogic, said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

“We’re very much focused on the longer term,” Szulczewski said. “If we just focus on that, in the long run the markets will reward us.”

Investor ‘Lesson’

Shares of both DoorDash and Airbnb have fallen this week, which may have been a factor in the lukewarm reception for Wish, said Kathleen Smith, principal and manager of IPO exchange traded funds at Renaissance Capital. Smith said the performance of last week’s listings “teaches investors a lesson” about buying at the open.

Wish is also part of a competitive landscape. While e-commerce stocks have traded well this year, some investors compare Wish to Amazon.con Inc., which Smith said has a similar growth rate. “If I can own Amazon, why should I own Wish?” she added.

At its IPO price, Wish would trade at about four times its projected 2022 sales, according to a person familiar with the matter. Amazon trades at 3.6 times its 2021 sales estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. EBay Inc. trades at 3.37 times the same metric. A representative for Wish declined to comment.

Wish board member Hans Tung, a managing partner at GGV Capital, said he isn’t worried about competition with Amazon. “I made my living as a venture capitalist who bet on being anti-Amazon,” he said.

Tung said he also wasn’t concerned about the the first day of trading. He noted that Peloton Interactive Inc., in which he was also an investor, fell in its debut last year and is now trading at more than four times its IPO price. GGV isn’t selling any shares in Wish, he said. Tung compared Wish to Pinduoduo Inc., the Chinese e-commerce company that has risen 665% since its 2018 U.S. debut. The strong stock market performance of brick-and-mortar chains Dollar General Corp. and Dollar Tree Inc. show the potential for the niche, he said.

Record December

Online lender Upstart Holdings Inc. rose 47% in its trading debut Wednesday after pricing its IPO at the bottom of a marketed range to raise $240 million. Upstart, based in San Mateo, California, closed its first day with a market value of $2.14 billion. More than $22 billion has now been raised in IPOs on U.S. exchanges in December — a record for the month. The 2020 total is now more than $174 billion, also an all-time high, the data show.

Two other consumer-oriented, web-based companies, online video-game company Roblox Corp. and installment loans provider Affirm Holdings Inc., are also pursuing IPOs. Roblox told its employees that it was delaying its IPO until next year.

Wish differentiates from other online retailers by focusing on value conscious consumers, according to its filings.

Founded in 2010 by Szulczewski and Danny Zhang, who met at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, Wish connects sellers to potential buyers of everything from clothing to electronic goods and kitchenware. ContextLogic owns other online marketplaces, including Geek, Mama, Home and Cute, according to the Wish website.

Sales, Losses

Wish’s losses, as well as its sales, have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to its filings. It had a net loss of $176 million on revenue of $1.7 billion during the first nine months of this year, compared with a net loss of $5 million on revenue of $1.3 billion during the same period in 2019.

The offering was led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. The shares are trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol WISH.

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