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Soccer club closes out rough week for IPOs

Manchester United has flat NYSE debut

NEW YORK -- Soccer club Manchester United's flat debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday ended a rocky but busy week for initial public offerings.

Another IPO expected Friday, from Carl's Jr. parent CKE Inc., was postponed. In making the announcement Thursday night, the company blamed market conditions.

On Tuesday, Bloomin' Brands,Outback Steakhouse's parent company, priced its IPO below expectations.

The moves added up to an anticlimactic ending to the busiest week for major IPOs since FacebookInc.' s problem-plagued debut in May.

Investor reaction to the debuts show that they are pushing back on pricing and staying cautious if the company's finances are questionable. But if the price is right and the company is solid, investors are willing to buy.

A five-week lull followed Facebook's IPO. Since the last week in June, there have been 22 initial public offerings. Of those, 17 are now trading above their IPO price.

"The greed factor is back," said Francis Gaskins, president and editor of But investors are being cautious about which companies to buy into, he said. "When you have big leveraged buyouts with a big brand, they have to show bottom-line profit," to succeed.

If they don't, investors won't bite, as Manchester United found on Friday.

Its shares were flat at $14 on the New York Stock Exchange, the level they were priced at by the underwriters late Thursday. The shares trade under the MANU ticker symbol. Analysts had predicted the IPO to price between $16 and $20.

The team is the world's best known, but its finances are less sterling. It is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and expects to report a loss for the year ended June 30, excluding a tax credit, with revenue down 3 percent to 5 percent.

Since Facebook's debut in May, more investors are demanding lower stock prices. Ten of the last 11 IPOS have priced below their expected range, said Nick Einhorn, an analyst at research firm Renaissance Capital. Bloomin' Brandspriced its offering of 16 million shares at $11 a share, below the $13 to $15 a share expected. It closed Friday at $12.86.

Tech company Peregrine Semiconductor Corp.'s shares priced at $14 Wednesday, at the low end of its expected range of $14 to $16. The stock closed for the week at $14.90.

The summer IPO season got off to a slow start after Facebook's rocky market debut. Its shares began trading publicly May 18 at the top of their projected range but closed barely above their IPO price at $38.23 and have fallen sharply since.

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