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Stocks that soared after initial public offerings earlier this year, such as Beyond Meat's May 2 IPO, have fallen back to Earth.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

A slew of coming quarterly reports from companies including Beyond Meat and Uber Technologies Inc. may test Wall Street’s waning patience for money-losing former unicorn startups.

Investors have become pickier in recent months, a trend highlighted recently when office-sharing startup WeWork was forced to scuttle its much-anticipated market debut owing to skepticism about its business model, corporate governance and burgeoning losses.

Stocks that soared after initial public offerings (IPOs) earlier this year, such as Beyond Meat and Pinterest Inc., have fallen back toward Earth. Stocks that failed to find traction after their IPOs, such as Lyft Inc. and Uber, have deepened their declines.

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While the S&P 500 approaches record highs, worries about an aging bull market and fallout from the U.S.-China trade war are making investors less willing to roll the dice on risky bets, including newly listed companies with no clear paths to profitability.

“People are rolling up their sleeves and saying, ‘I have to do more analysis on these companies, I need to understand its fundamentals and the management team and how it will eventually make money.'" said Jerry Raio, head of capital markets at ClickIPO, a small company aiming to give retail investors better access to IPOs.

Underscoring Wall Street’s increasing selectiveness, SmileDirectClub and Peloton Interactive have tumbled 49 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, from their September IPOs, even after analysts from the banks that underwrote their market debuts published a deluge of “buy” recommendations.

Beyond Meat on Monday is expected by analysts, on average, to report revenue that quadrupled from a year ago to US$82-million as the faux-meat seller makes early inroads into grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s. Analysts on average expect a quarterly net profit of US$2.48-million on a non-GAAP basis from Beyond Meat and a loss of US$1.66-million under GAAP.

The stock has tumbled 33 per cent in October, still leaving the gain since its May IPO at about 300 per cent. The day after Monday’s report, Beyond Meat employees and insiders will be permitted for the first time since the IPO to sell their shares, and they may be tempted to, given the stock’s still mammoth return.

This year saw a series of IPOs from “unicorns” – rare startups valued at more than US$1-billion – as their investors rushed to tap equity markets near record highs. But many investors of late are refocusing on safer investments.

Unprofitable U.S. companies holding IPOs this year have had a median stock return of zero per cent, compared with a median increase of 2 per cent for profitable companies that held IPOs, according to a Reuters analysis. The S&P 500 has grown 21 per cent in 2019.

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“You’re seeing a broad rotation with investors moving out of high valuation companies. Beyond Meat is executing incredibly well, but its valuation is way ahead of itself by any metric,” said Brad Gastwirth, chief technology strategist at Wedbush Securities.

Lyft surged last Tuesday after saying it would become profitable at the end of 2021, sooner than analysts expected. But shares of the ride-hailing company, which reports on Wednesday, remain down 39 per cent since its March IPO.

Uber, which has lost a quarter of its value since its May IPO, reports its results on Nov. 4. It is expected to post a 25-per-cent increase in revenue to US$3.70-billion and a loss of US$1.44-billion. For full 2019, analysts expect revenue growth of 24 per cent, down from 42-per-cent growth in 2018.

Short interest in Peloton Interactive, which sells stationary bikes and subscriptions for streaming exercise classes, stands at around 77 per cent of its float, making it one of the U.S. market’s most shorted stocks, according to S3 Partners. Analysts on average expect Peloton’s report on Nov. 5 to show a 76-per-cent jump in revenue to US$197-million and a US$107-million non-GAAP loss, up from a loss of US$55-million a year ago.

Reflecting Wall Street’s increased nervousness, Zoom Video Communications, Crowdstrike Holdings Inc. and Medallia, three of this year’s more successful IPOs, have each fallen more than 25 per cent since Sept. 5, when they reported quarterly results that exceeded consensus analyst expectations.

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