With investor interest in Canadian tech initial public offerings starting to warm up – including around the impending flotation of 10 per cent of Shopify Inc. stock – this week marks the second anniversary of another tech IPO many would probably rather forget: Halogen Software Inc.
The cloud-based software company specializing in talent management, which has had a rough ride since its IPO, announced Tuesday it was beefing up its board by adding two International Business Machines Corp. veterans. Deborah Besemer is a past executive vice-president of worldwide field operations at Big Blue, and Les Rechan is the former general manager of a business analytics division within IBM's software group and previously chief operating officer of IBM-purchased Cognos.
Perhaps the new board members will help the stock; other efforts have fallen flat. Two things appear to have rankled investors since Ottawa-based Halogen's IPO in May 2013, which raised $63.5-million and was co-led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and Stifel Nicolaus Canada Inc. Insiders, including private equity backer JMI were quick to cash in, not only selling shares in the IPO but also moving another $21-million worth of shares at $14 apiece in a bought deal that fall.
Then, in February 2014, the company forecast its recurring revenue – the all-important driver of its growth story during the road show – would only increase by about 20 per cent to 22 per cent that year, its fourth straight year of a declining rate of growth. The stock quickly dropped from the $14 range to below $12 and kept sagging; by June 2014 it was scraping $8. It has since recovered slightly and in the past month briefly surpassed $10 before edging back, but it's still well below its IPO price.
Halogen has continued to post steady year-over-year revenue gains in the high teens or low 20s over the past several quarters. Still, the stock's chronically weak performance should be a reminder that Canadian tech investors expect hot revenue growth to continue after the IPO.