Technology firm PowerbyProxi has been entertaining fund managers at its College Hill headquarters, suggesting work towards a potential sharemarket listing is gathering momentum.

The company, spun out of the University of Auckland about six years ago, has developed wireless charging pads for consumer devices such as smartphones and television remotes, as well as technology for industrial applications including wind turbines and manufacturing plants.

PowerbyProxi is gauging market interest in a potential float, according to sources.
The company secured $4 million in funding from the venture capital arm of South Korean technology giant Samsung last year, which added to a $5 million investment by New York-listed TE Connectivity and Wellington-based investment fund Movac.

Other shareholders include chief executive Greg Cross, co-founder Fady Mishriki, business incubator The Icehouse and Uniservices, the commercialisation arm of the University of Auckland.

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Last year Cross was reported as saying a listing would be considered in the future.

PowerbyProxi's rivals include a number of other start-ups and American semi-conductor giant Qualcomm, but Mishriki told the Business Herald last year that the firm's "really strong" portfolio of patents gave it an edge.

A market source says it's unclear when PowerbyProxi might float, but the company is "pretty determined".

The success of online accounting software developer Xero has encouraged many privately owned technology firms to look at listing.

Other technology companies on the listing radar include Wellington-based maker of GPS-enabled measurement devices IkeGPS, data warehousing provider Wherescape, healthcare software developer Orion Health and transport software firm Eroad.

IPO BOOM

A flurry of listings is expected to take place in the lead-up to this year's general election.
A source says there is a group of firms preparing to list before New Zealand heads to the polls on September 20, while another group was aiming to float afterwards. "At this stage I think there's more coming before the election," he says.

Software firms Serko and Gentrack last week revealed plans to list on the 24th and 25th of this month, respectively.

Word on the street is that demand for the Serko offer, which opened on Wednesday, has been strong.

Christchurch-based fruit and vegetable marketer Scales Corporation expects to float in July. A group of fund managers paid a visit to the firm's operations in Hawkes Bay this week.

Listing announcements are also anticipated from glass supplier Metro GlassTech and equipment rental firm Hirepool.

Putting all the euphoria to one side, Stock Takes hopes retail investors are approaching these new investment opportunities with caution.

As one fund manager observed, companies aren't listing out of the kindness of their hearts - they're looking to cash in on a sharemarket that has risen sharply over the past couple of years.

RESEARCH RECEDES

"I've never seen it so busy." That seems to be the mantra of equity market players amid a rush of new listings on both sides of the Tasman.

But all the IPO work is sucking up the resources of sharebrokers' analyst teams, according to fund managers who say there has been a noticeable downturn in the quality and volume of brokers' research output.

One fund manager said when analysts got too busy they ended up "toeing the company line" on firms they cover.

"They are very bogged down and the amount of research that's being generated is being reduced as a result," said another. "A vacuum is probably the best way of putting it."

REVENUE DIP

Hirepool's sales declined by 7.6 per cent in the 2014 financial year despite a firming New Zealand economy, according to pre-marketing research released by Deutsche Bank.

But investments being made by the company, coupled with an increase in construction projects, is expected to bolster the business in the next financial year.

The Deutsche Bank report says the company - which rents equipment such as vehicles, portable toilets and catering gear - expects to post revenue of $156.5 million for the 2015 financial year, a "level near which Hirepool has achieved previously".

Fund managers have been told Hirepool will post a $25.6 million profit in the 2015 financial year, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Deutsche Bank gave the company an equity value in the range of $260 million to $320 million. A net dividend yield of between 5.3 per cent and 6.5 per cent was expected next year, according to the research.

Hirepool, which acquired rival equipment hire business HireQuip last year, is owned by Australian private equity firm Next Capital.

Deutsche Craigs, UBS and Macquarie Capital are managing the offer.

BUMPY RIDE

It's been a wild ride for Pacific Edge shareholders over the past couple of years.

After surging to an all-time high of $1.74 in January, the company's share price has since slumped and dropped as low as 69c this week, before recovering to close at 81c yesterday.

The bladder cancer test provider's stock gained almost 230 per cent in the year to January 2014. The rally was partly spurred by positive announcements of potentially lucrative deals with major health networks in the United States, where the firm is targeting major expansion.

But Pacific Edge, which entered the NZX-50 in March, has been caught up over the past few months in a global sell-off of growth-focused equities and a dip in investor appetite for loss-making firms with big promises of future profit and success.

Rickey Ward, JBWere's New Zealand equity manager, says the company is merely going through the "growing pains" that all high growth start-ups have to endure.

"Management indicate that the company has sufficient funds to cater for budgeted growth over the next two years and funding is typically the single biggest issue that kills these companies," Ward says.

"Pacific Edge has finally started to achieve some modest trading revenue so everything looks promising so far but investors will require significant momentum for the next leg."

The company posted a full-year loss of $9.4 million last week, up from a loss of $6.9 million in the previous year. Revenue in the 12 months to March 31 this year rose to $523,000 from $182,000 a year earlier.

Pacific Edge has established a laboratory, where its tests are processed, in the US state of Pennsylvania and has established relationships with four national health networks in that country.

The company, which hopes to hit annual revenue of $100 million in the US within the next five years, is chasing deals with other major providers such as the Veterans Administration, a provider of healthcare to former members of the US armed forces, and the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees government-funded health insurance programmes for senior citizens and low-income earners.

The announcement of a deal with either of those providers could set off another rally in the stock.