SoulCycle: be careful out there

 

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SoulCycle, the high-hype indoor cycling fitness chain, filed with the SEC on July 30, 2015 to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering.

More than 13 months later, the market is still waiting.

Privately held luxury-gym chain Equinox Holdings Inc. wants to spin off SoulCycle, but apparently, it’s not easy.

In March 2016, Harvey Spevak, Equinox’s CEO, told Bloomberg TV Canada’s Pamela Ritchie the company was delaying the IPO until the right time.

“We’ve all seen what’s happened with the U.S. stock market,” he said. “If you look at the history over the last 12 months, the data says there are only two IPOs that are now trading above their offering price. So, we’re kind of in a watch mode right now.”

Asked whether the IPO would occur before the end of this year, Spevak was non-committal. No one knows where the global economy, the U.S. economy and the capital markets are going, he said, so it was just a matter of watching.

SoulCycle began as a small cycling studio in New York City in 2006. The wealthy investors behind the company hope to reap a windfall when the company goes public, and there’s a lot of positive talk on the street.

But investors who are still salivating over the IPO, despite the delay, should be cautious.

First, there’s as much chance investors will lose money as make it with many IPOs.

The stock price of the vintage and craft online marketplace, Etsy Inc., for example, had an offering price of $16 a share when it went public in April 2015. It surged 87.5 percent on its first day of trading, but then began to collapse. It ended 2015 as the worst performing IPO of the year and closed on Sept. 19 at $13.36 a share.

As SoulCycle’s Prospectus notes, risk factors include the company’s ability to maintain the reputation and value of its brand, to attract and retain riders and to gain acceptance outside its Eastern geographic base.

There’s also competition and SoulCycle will have to deal in a timely way with inevitable changing trends. It could, frankly, be just another fitness fad.

There’s been a lot of talk about the dearth of IPOs so far in 2016. Deals peaked in 2014, retreated in 2015 and are almost non-existent so far this year, according to Denis Smirnov of Gordian Advisors.

In this climate, SoulCycle is still watching and waiting. Potential investors in the company should, too.

 

 

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