Riding investor enthusiasm for Internet stocks, shares of the mortgage company E-Loan Inc. soared to $37 Tuesday after an initial public offering at $14.
E-Loan, of Dublin, Calif., had amended its Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier in the month to postpone the debut and reduce the estimated share price to $9 to $11, from $11 to $13.
Analysts said the unexpectedly strong showing was due to investors' ignoring the fundamentals of the mortgage business and treating the stock as a pure Internet play.
"There is a lot of excitement in the world about Internet IPOs," said Daniel Gilbert of Rock Financial, a mortgage company in Bingham Farms, Mich., that plans a national marketing rollout of its on-line mortgage operation next week.
But he said investors should be more skeptical of Internet-only companies. "In the end, the companies that win this on-line mortgage battle are the ones that can process, fund, and close the loans themselves."
E-Loan said that 3,495,000 shares were being offered by the company, and that 5,000 more will be sold by the Community Foundation of Silicon Valley. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette are co-lead managers for the offering, and Hambrecht & Quist is co-manager for the underwriting group. Shares traded as high as $51 Tuesday afternoon.
Kenneth A. Posner, a principle at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, cautioned against applying Internet stock pricing to mortgage companies. "They are competing in a low-margin, cyclical business, without scale or risk management. There is a tendency for some investors to overlook the tough realities of the mortgage market."
Certainly competition is heating up among Internet mortgage companies.
One competitor, Mortgage.com, of Plantation, Fla. has filed plans for a $112 million initial public offering.
And with all eyes focused on E-Loan's offering, a major competitor, QuickenMortgage, of Mountain View, Calif., issued a press release Tuesday saying its 2,700 loans in the first three months of 1999 slightly outstripped E-Loans.'