How Does Tesla Compare to Other IPOs?


Despite an ugly stock market, Tesla Motors (TSLA) has yet again defied gravity. So far in today's trading, the company's shares leaped over 40% to $23.89. The shares opened at $19.

This performance comes after Tesla boosted its offering from 11.1 to 13.3 million shares and priced its deal at $17, above the proposed $14-$16 range.

Over the past two years, Tesla has been selling its all-electric high-performance car called the Roadster (it retails for a hefty $109,000). However, with only 1,063 units sold, the company will need to rely on its lower-priced Model S platform. But this version won't hit the market until 2012. In the meantime, Tesla will keep racking up losses. But such things seem to be nonissues for IPO investors.

So, how does the Tesla deal compare to the other IPOs of the past 12 months? Let's take a look:

Size: The Tesla IPO is far from the largest in terms of the capital raise. In fact, more than 35 companies have raised more capital (out of 125 offerings). As for the largest, it was Banco Santander Brasil, which pulled in roughly $4 billion.

First-day performance: It looks like Tesla will actually have a fairly average first-day return. What was the top one? Interestingly enough, it was A123 (AONE), an alternative energy company. Its shares increased 50% on day one.

Similar deals: There are only a handful of alternative-energy IPOs, which include JinkoSolar Holding (JKS), STR Holdings (STRI), A123 Systems, Codexis (CDXS) and China Hydroelectric (CHC). All are trading below their IPO prices except STR Holdings (the shares have more than doubled).

While JinkSolar showed only a modest 3% decline, the others were much worse. A123, Codexis and China Hydroelectric are off 27%, 32% and 48%, respectively.

For history buffs: Tesla is the first American car company to go public since Ford (F) in January 1956. In fact, Ford's was the largest IPO at the time, with the company raising a staggering $700 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $5 billion today. On its first day of trading, Ford went from $64.50 to $70. But within a few months, the shares were in the $40s.