The Groupon Curse Strikes Again

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Don't hold your breath for that LivingSocial IPO.

An SEC filing yesterday shows that LivingSocial has raised $176 million in financing, part of a $400 million round that reportedly values the company at a cool $6 billion.

Wait a minute. Didn't LivingSocial just raise $400 million earlier this year? It did, and while early investors including Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) and T. Rowe Price (NAS: TROW) have done well given the daily deals website's buoyant valuation, there comes a point where all of these chunky rounds of capital raising become problematic. The last thing Mr. Market needs is to begin courting a high-maintenance prima donna.

LivingSocial was at one point this year reportedly hoping to raise $1 billion by going public. Now that Groupon's (NAS: GRPN) debut has been a bit of a dud, it's hard to see another daily deals provider wooing underwriters and investors.

This is just what happens when bandwagons get unhitched. When Youku.com (NYS: YOKU) went public as China's top video-streaming website, the offering popped well above its $12.80 IPO price. Rival Tudou (NAS: TUDO) followed shortly thereafter, but tanked. Both stocks have come well off their highs, making it hard for similar companies to go public now.

Baseball has the Mendoza Line -- the 0.200 batting average that is considered acceptable. LivingSocial's Mendoza Line is simply Groupon at $20. When Groupon dipped below its $20 IPO price last month, it wasn't just bad news for Groupon insiders that were hoping to eventually cash out. The chances of a successful LivingSocial IPO -- and perhaps even the fate of this attempted $400 million financing round -- hang in the balance.

I argued that Groupon was too cheap when it fell down into the teens late last month, and the stock has now bounced back above its $20 Mendoza Line. It will have to stay there convincingly, if not head higher, before any other potential daily deals site pulls off an IPO.

A little extra seasoning wouldn't hurt. Analysts expect Groupon -- 142.9 million subscribers strong and growing -- to be profitable next year, and surely LivingSocial's fundamentals will improve if it continues to grow. The market is just too skeptical of the crowded daily deals space to embrace even a verified leader.

LivingSocial's time will come, though it may want to shake that "high maintenance" tag by easing up on the need for these meaty financing rounds.

If you want to follow the daily deals leader to see if it becomes a bargain itself, addGrouponto My Watchlist.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of T. Rowe Price Group. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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