SAN FRANCISCO - Despite a faltering market for technology offerings, the mood was upbeat Tuesday at Chase H&Q's technology conference.
Amid another two days of declines in the Nasdaq index, the market "is not as much fun for issuers" of initial public offerings, said Daniel H. Case 3d, chairman and chief executive officer of the Chase Manhattan Corp. unit.
But Mr. Case said he is confident that the market will rebound. And if it does not, he and other Chase officials said, there are other opportunities for their company - in leveraged buyouts.
The Nasdaq slide has hit IPO volume hard. In April, 19 companies postponed their IPOs and 14 withdrew first-time offerings, as investors' appetite for technology stocks waned. Indeed, shares of companies presenting at the conference had dropped about 40% from their 52-week high, Mr. Case said.
Attendance was 5,000 at the conference, an annual event sponsored for decades by Hambrecht & Quist, which Chase bought in December for $1.35 billion. It is considered one of most important venues for tech companies trying to pitch themselves to investors. Those on hand this year ranged from weddingchannel.com to 3Com.
Chase gave no indication that it is worried that its investment in H&Q could fall short of expectations should more companies withdraw or postpone their IPOs.
"We've always prospered in times like this," said James B. Lee Jr., a vice chairman at the banking company
"It's when we turn up the volume. This is when the most powerful relationships get built," said Mr. Lee, wearing his signature white-collared blue banker's shirt but, in a concession to California style, no power tie.
Hambrecht's large volume of technology-issue underwriting and tech advisory work helped double Chase's investment banking fees in the first quarter, to $648 million. But it appears that will not be matched in the second quarter, if April's low IPO volume is any indication.
Chase officials said that if the technology IPO slump continues they will probably get more active in the sector with leveraged buyouts, the foundation of Chase's investment bank.
"I always dreamed of what would happen when LBO met IPO," Mr. Case said in a panel discussion that included Mr. Lee and David Bonderman, founding partner of the leveraged-buyout shop Texas Pacific Group.
Now that tech-stock euphoria is over, investors say they are paying closer attention to technology companies' cash flow, business plans, and other performance predictors. But underwriters and money managers at the conference emphasized that lower share prices mean more buying opportunities at more reasonable prices.
"I've never seen the ability to arbitrage be so tremendous," said Sandy Robertson, a partner at the private equity firm Francisco Partners and a founder of the San Francisco investment bank Robertson Stephens.