"I got IPO" used to be the phrase that paid back when I was a stockbroker years ago. There was a certain segment of the investing population who would do almost anything to get newly minted shares of a company, no matter how big or small the company. The historical data showed that the vast majority of companies who went public recorded stock prices a year later at or below their IPO price, but if an investor thought it was a hot deal, they wanted in.

This meant you were often able to get a client to buy a stock he didn't really want just to get some of your IPO allocation. For the analysts who took a macro view of the markets, IPO registrations were often seen as a barometer of investor confidence.

In an economic environment that continues to present tremendous challenges to the nation's small businesses, who are still hampered by lack of access to credit and weak revenues, Wall Streeters have begun to be cautiously optimistic about the near term prospects of recent IPO registrants. All eyes on the street will be following Financial Engines (FNGN) tomorrow, according to the Wall Street Journal, as it lists on NASDAQ an offering of 10.6 million shares which are expected to be priced tonight somewhere between $9 and $10.

Financial Engines was rumored to be going public since back in the 90's, when the company introduced the first online advice platform, a feature that is now standard on most investment house websites. Now the company provides provide portfolio management services to 401(k) plan participants at a cadre of Fortune 1000 companies. The air will be electric tomorrow at Goldman Sachs and UBS as their brokers wait for the announcement that signals the stock will begin trading in a few minutes. 

Renaissance Capital lists eight other deals being priced in the next two weeks that could potentially go to market in March:

Upcoming IPO Calendar

Company Name/Ticker

Underwriter

Price   

Shares

Pricing Date

Financial Engines

(FNGN)

Goldman Sachs UBS Investment Bank

$9 - $11

10.9 mil

Week of 03/15

 

Redgate Media

(RGM)

 

Brean Murray i-Bankers Securities

$6 - $8

5.5 mil

Week of 03/15

 

Calix Networks

(CALX)

 

Goldman Sachs Morgan Stanley

$11 - $13

6.3 mil

Week of 03/22

 

First Interstate BancSystem

(FIBK)

 

Barclays Capital D.A. Davidson

$14 - $16

8.7 mil

Week of 03/22

 

Alma Maritime Limited

(AAM)

 

BofA Merrill Lynch UBS Investment Bank

$19 - $21

11.3 mil

Week of 03/22

 

MaxLinear

(MXL)

 

Morgan Stanley Deutsche Bank

$11 - $13

5.4 mil

Week of 03/22

 

China Lodging Group

(HTHT)

 

Goldman Sachs Morgan Stanley

$10 - $12

9.0 mil

Week of 03/22

 

Film Department Holdings

(TFDI)

IPO Solutions

$13 - $13

4.6 mil

Week of 03/22

 

SS&C Technologies Holdings

(SSNC)

 

J.P. Morgan Credit Suisse

$13 - $15

10.7 mil

Week of 03/29

PricewaterhouseCoopers' Scott Gehsmann gave an interview last week to FOX Business News on why he thinks the global market may be warming up for public offerings. He indicated that his deal pipeline showed optimism in the technology, biotech, financial services, healthcare and retail sectors in the near term, saying “we are really excited about the robust activity we see in our pipeline. Gehsmann cited the 19 IPO’s that have already gone off this year as a very positive sign, given the fact that in the same period in 2009 only 2 IPO’s traded.

A solid IPO season will do a lot to get the cash off the sidelines that institutional investors have been parking for months in safe havens, and could provide the kind of optimism market professionals need to see in order to get back on the “buy” side of the markets.