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IPOs may be coming back, slowly

Paint flakes away from a General Motors Co. logo on the door of a defunct auto parts store in Chicago, Ill.

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Kai Ryssdal: Besides commercial paper, another indicator that would tell us the economy's getting better can be found in the stock market. The pace of initial public offerings has been sluggish at best since the financial crisis scared off a lot of investors. But some high-profile deals in the works do suggests IPOs may be coming back. General Motors is the big one. The government-owned car maker is expected to file its papers this week for an offering some time later this fall. Reports today say the web video service Hulu is planning to go public as well.

Marketplace's Amy Scott reports.


Amy Scott: Hulu is owned by NBC Universal, ABC and Fox. The website competes with YouTube and Netflix, streaming movies and TV shows, like the musical hit "Glee."

Sue Sylvester of "Glee": Mediocre! Hit the showers.

You could say that about the market for IPOs these days. But reports say Hulu hopes to raise $2 billion by selling stock to the public. Though last year, it made just north of $100 million in revenue.

Porter Bibb: It reminds me of a rather sizeable bubble that occurred about 10 years ago.

That's Porter Bibb with Media Tech Capital Partners. He's talking about the tech bubble, when companies with little or no revenue managed to raise billions in the stock market. There's no telling whether Hulu could raise that kind of money. But analysts are seeing signs of life in the IPO market.

In addition to GM, Toys "R" Us, hospital chain HCA and Internet phone service Skype plan to go public. Matt Therian tracks IPOs for Renaissance Capital.

Matt Therian: In 2010, so far, the U.S. market has already eclipsed the total from 2009. So I think that's a good sign.

But Therian says about two-thirds of those deals have fetched less than analysts expected. Some have suggested a General Motors IPO could siphon off demand for other deals.

Bruce Foerster is with South Beach Capital Markets. He expects the opposite.

Bruce Foerster: If the GM offering is successful, it will throw off some confidence into the IPO market in general.

He says there is plenty of money waiting to invest in a new General Motors at the right price.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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