It takes a braver stock market commentator than I am to predict whether the strong rise in equities since the middle of March represents the start of a new bull market or just a bear market rally. But there are obviously plenty of pundits out there with a lot more courage than I possess, since the business pages of newspapers worldwide have been full of quotes in recent weeks from various financial professionals solidly arguing the bear or bull case.
Of course, a sure sign of equity markets returning to growth would be a raft of initial public offerings (IPOs) on stock markets around the globe. However, the anecdotal evidence that I gleaned from meetings this month with private cleantech companies in Stockholm and London suggests that it could take a couple of years before the markets are settled enough to see a new wave of flotations.
During my visit to Stockholm’s Kista technology park I met with around a dozen cleantech companies at varying stages of development, from new start-ups to mature businesses with significant revenue streams. One of the latter, which has a 50% market share of the building-fitted photovoltaic market in Sweden, is part of a larger business that is targeting an IPO on NASDAQ OMX. Another company, which has developed a product that regulates the amount of light and heat that can pass through a window (to reduce energy consumed by air conditioning systems in buildings and vehicles), is looking at a potential flotation on London’s Alternative Investment Market.
Yet, despite having already achieved much more than many already-listed cleantech firms, both these companies insist they will “not be ready” to float for two years.
Back in London, I saw a presentation given by a very promising company with patents for planet-friendly refrigerants that it says will benefit from forthcoming EU legislation targeted at the environmental impact of fridges. How long before it plans an IPO on AIM? You guessed it: two years.
So, will I be persuaded to add my voice to those arguing against a new bull market? I would not be so bold!
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