Initial public offerings had a surprisingly solid 2007, as more companies raised more money through first-time stock sales on U.S. markets than in 2006...

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Initial public offerings had a surprisingly solid 2007, as more companies raised more money through first-time stock sales on U.S. markets than in 2006.

But that strength mostly bypassed the Pacific Northwest: Only two regional companies successfully completed IPOs, while a half-dozen other deals languished. And the newly public companies’ aftermarket performance left a lot to be desired.

Kirkland-based Clearwire raised $600 million in March, notching the biggest IPO for a Washington-based company since the 2000 IPO of AT&T Wireless — like Clearwire, a product of serial entrepreneur Craig McCaw.

But Clearwire has struggled as a public company due to uncertainty over its plans to build out a nationwide wireless broadband network. It closed out the year at $13.71, down 45.2 percent from its $25 IPO price.

The only other Northwest company to go public last year was First Financial Northwest, the parent of First Savings Bank Northwest (formerly First Savings Bank of Renton).

First Financial converted from a mutual ownership structure and went public in October, just as the national mortgage crisis was eroding the shares of many home lenders. The stock, which began trading at $11.73, closed the year at $9.84, down 16.1 percent.

The IPO picture was decidedly better nationally, with 287 companies completing deals, 40 more than in 2006, according to a Seattle Times analysis of Bloomberg News data.

A growing slice of the activity came not from operating companies but from “blank-check” companies set up to acquire some other business. About 60 such companies raised money last year, nearly twice as many as in 2006.

Another trend was Chinese companies raising cash in U.S. markets. The year saw 35 China-based companies launching IPOs in U.S. markets, three times as many as in 2006.

Three local companies formally postponed their planned offerings: Tully’s Coffee of Seattle, which has long tantalized its investors with the prospect of an IPO; Symetra Financial of Bellevue, the former life-insurance and investment unit of Safeco; and Venture Financial of DuPont, parent of Venture Bank.

Three other deals, all involving Seattle-based companies, were in a holding pattern as 2007 ended: biodiesel maker Imperium Renewables, which lost CEO Martin Tobias less than two weeks ago; software developer Varolii, formerly known as Par3 Communications; and Sound Financial, parent of Sound Community Bank.

Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or ddesilver@seattletimes.com