The buzzy sandal company Birkenstock listing in October came at an interesting time as consumers were thinking twice before spending and some of its rivals’ IPOs had struggled in recent months.
Its debut turned out to be disappointing after shares declined 13%, marking a new low in first-day trading for U.S. stocks in the last two years that were valued at above $1 billion.
Despite the initial trouble though, Birkenstock’s shares have made positive moves, thanks to a rally in equity markets and strong holiday-season shopping that have boosted their price. The German shoemaker closed higher than its IPO price of $46 for the first time on Monday, less than a week after matching it.
But while Birkenstock has recovered its initial price, the meagerness of that accomplishment symbolizes how much 2023’s IPOs have lagged the larger market—whether that’s in retail or tech. The S&P 500 has risen a healthy 19.5% this year. And new U.S. IPOs? Those that raised at least $250 million have only risen an average of 9.2%, according to Bloomberg.
Other IPOs have been struggling
A long trail of lackluster IPO performances have haunted stock markets after looking promising. British chipmaker Arm’s listing is one example—after a strong first day when it went public in what was the biggest IPO of 2023, shares dipped by more than 4% over the next four days. The company reported its first post-IPO results in early November with revenue guidance below expectations. Its shares promptly fell 7%.
Instacart, the grocery delivery platform, has also seen initial excitement over its IPO not translate into the strongest of share prices. Marketing software company Klaviyo has managed to trade at higher than its IPO price, although as Fortune’s Luisa Beltran pointed out in September, its debut was no moon shot.
The combination of Arm, Instacart, Klaviyo and Birkenstock’s public listings gave investors hope about reinvigorating the new issuance market, Bloomberg reported. But they have lagged since going public. While the “everything rally” in stock markets—which has seen S&P 500 rise 11% since Oct. 27—has also helped lift Arm and Klaviyo shares above their IPO prices, they are still below their initial highs. And Instacart, which went public in September at $30 a share, is still almost 20% below its IPO price.
“The demand for IPOs is there, it’s just not at prices that issuers are ready to sell at,” Steve Maletzky, head of equity capital markets at William Blair & Co., told Bloomberg. “It’ll be on the issuers and their sponsors to meet investors where they are for the IPO market to return to normalcy.”
Now, companies contemplating listing are being advised to aim for lower valuations as the IPO market struggles to find its mojo.
Birkenstock’s premium debut
Birkenstock’s $8.6 billion valuation was seen by some analysts as too high given the state of consumer spending. Still, with a 250-year history of persistence and evolution, it gives investors hope for positive turns in the future. It also remains a company with strong fundamentals. Other, newer, companies might not be so lucky to score such generous valuations, Nick Smith, a senior IPO analyst from Renaissance Capital, told Fortune in an email about Birkenstock’s IPO in October.
“Birkenstock came public at [a] significant premium, and while its strong fundamentals relative to its group of peers may warrant some level of premium, investors are not willing to pay up as much as the company sought,” Smith said. “While strong companies can still go public, it is clear that IPO valuations will need to offer upside if they want to have good debuts in this environment.”
Birkenstock didn’t immediately return Fortune‘s request for comment.