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The first quarter of 2018 was the best for IPO’s since 2015

Traders await price updates of Spotify before the company’s direct listing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

This week, the streaming music service Spotify made its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange. It used an unusual strategy: Rather than raising money, the company went public by listing itself on the exchange so it could avoid the longer and more regulatory process of doing an initial public offering. Already its shares have jumped and the company is positioned to do more offerings in the future.

So could this have an impact on the IPO market? The jury’s still out. But judging from last quarter, the IPO market seems to be doing just fine.

Sure, there are a lot of reasons to be uncertain about U.S. capital markets recently what with the significant swings in the Dow Jones industrial average, interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, saber-rattling by Russia and a potential trade war with China. But that hasn’t stopped a number of companies from going public in the U.S. – and raising billions in the quarter ended March 31. It was the IPO market’s best performance since 2015, according to a study by research company Renaissance Capital.

Marketwatch reports that during this period, 43 companies went public, raising $15.6 billion, well ahead of the $10.9 billion raised the previous quarter. During the first quarter of 2018, four companies raised more than $1 billion, which was more than all of 2017.

Dropbox, of course, was the most visible. The online document file storage service raised $756 million in its initial public offering last week and saw its shares increase more than 35 percent on the day of its offering. Security firm ADT raised more than $1.6 billion in January. Netflix, who raised more than $2.25 billion, was also a big winner during the quarter. Chinese companies were very active as well, representing more than 21 percent of the capital raised. In fact, half of the ten biggest offerings during the period were from non-U.S. companies.

IPOs from technology companies accounted for more than 40 percent of the quarter’s total proceeds. However, the health-care sector had the most newly publicly-held companies, with twelve.

An initial public offering can bring great returns and great losses — and this quarter was no different. Tech companies that went public saw a gain in their stock price of more than 26 percent during the quarter. Health-care stocks also did well, with an average gain of almost 13 percent. The losers were industrials. The three new companies that went public in this sector during the first quarter lost about 29 percent from their initial offering prices — mostly because of recent trade war and tariff scares.