Initial public offerings for Internet companies are back in the headlines. Companies such as LinkedIn and Groupon went public in 2011 with multibillion-dollar valuations, and online review site Yelp filed paperwork for its own IPO late last year. This year, Facebook has filed for an offering that could value the social media colossus at between $75 billion and $100 billion.
If this sounds all too familiar, it might be. Research firm MyPrivateBanking compared the latest wave of Internet IPOs to the dot-com bubble of 1998-2000 and concluded that investors should be skeptical of the hot offerings. "Looking at the balance sheets accompanying, in particular, the recent IPOs of social media ventures and Chinese Internet companies, we see a lot of similarities that should worry investors," warns Steffen Binder, research director of MyPrivateBanking. Those similarities include "skyrocketing" valuations and the presence of some of the same underwriters who sold the likes of Webvan, Pets.com and Lastminute.com to investors.
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