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要避免重蹈Uber覆辙,WeWork 在IPO前必须做三件事

Anne Sraders 2019年07月15日

又一家烧钱的公司打算上市了,WeWork需要做好三件事。

《华尔街日报》于上周一报道,共享办公巨头The We Company(以前的WeWork)打算在今年晚些时候上市,而且刚刚宣布了发债40亿美元的计划。

本次发债有两个作用——满足当前现金流需求,同时缓解IPO本身面临的巨大压力。报道指出,实际上,发债所筹资金有可能超过今后几年WeWork在股市上的融资额,从而向潜在股票投资者表明这家公司还有一条油水较少的途径来获得资金。

这次债券发行将由高盛和摩根大通(可能还有其他公司)安排,而目前WeWork处于现金流失状态。2018年这家办公场地经营公司实现收入18亿美元,和Uber披露的收入水平相当,资金消耗却达到了19亿美元。

这让部分潜在投资者暂缓了投资脚步,因为Uber和Lyft上市首日不那么精彩的表现依然历历在目。这两家拼车服务商都在严重亏损的情况下上市,其股价也都持续大幅波动,因为它们都没能让投资者相信自己有清晰的盈利途径。因此,如果想有所突破,WeWork就需要做下面三件事,以免重蹈覆辙。

更为精细

证券经纪公司D.A. Davidson的高级副总裁、高级研究分析师汤姆·怀特告诉《财富》杂志:“我觉得WeWork一定可以而且应该从Uber和Lyft提交的文件中学到些东西。”

怀特认为,WeWork需要强调自己有清晰的前进道路,以便投资者对这家烧钱的公司抱有信心,特别是在目前将要发债的情况下。

怀特说:“对这些规模庞大、没有利润但能够在多方面带来变革的公司而言,Uber和Lyft IPO的重大教训就是WeWork需要提供更详细和精致的路线图,说明自己打算怎样逐步扭亏为盈。”他建议WeWork深入探讨其市场的单位经济性并进行同期群分析,以便投资者更好地了解自己的潜在投资对象。

别的分析师也有同样的看法。

机构研究服务商、IPO ETF管理公司复兴资本(Renaissance Capital)的负责人凯瑟琳·史密斯认为“Wework必须”确保投资者了解其盈利模式。她的建议是不要像Uber和Lyft那样。

Manhattan Venture Partners的研究主管桑托什·拉奥相信,回顾市场接纳Lyft和Uber的过程对WeWok来说大有裨益,“我想,可以这么说,他们已经看见了那些不祥之兆。”

拉奥说,WeWork的模式基本以短期租赁为主,但它已经开始通过购买写字楼和全球扩张来现实多元化。同时,随着负债的增长(WeWork去年已经举债约7.02亿美元,而且利率高达7.9%),涉足企业租赁和长期出租业务将为该公司带来持续性收入,而这可以吸引债券持有人。

同时,分析师认为WeWork应该从已经上市的那些公司身上汲取的第二个教训是当心自己的估值。

恰当定价

WeWork的估算市值为470亿美元,对投资者而言这是很高的要价。投资咨询公司Scenic Advisement的董事总经理兼首席投资官简·梁认为市场已经有了疑问。

梁说:“我觉得投资者对这些估值极高的公司真的很小心,而且他们应当如此。”她认为WeWork需要做到透明,以便“投资者不那么担心”这家公司必然会步Uber和Lyft后尘。

这两家拼车服务公司的股价一直低于它们较高的首发价。梁指出,刚刚崭露头角时的炒作可能把它们IPO前的估值提升到了“过高”水平。复兴资本的负责人史密斯则认为,由于烧钱快,再加上又要发债,WeWork的估值将受到影响。

史密斯说:“问题在于,他们必须定价合适。他们得有一定幅度的折价,这样投资者才不会那么担心它跌破发行价。”

那么怎样的价格才合适呢?

梁表示,在她看来,WeWork的股价或许更接近其二级市场价值,这个数字约为目前470亿美元估值的一半。

多元化

虽然拉奥认为当前IPO环境下投资者可能喜欢WeWork这样的公司,但他坚持表示WeWork的业务模式“有风险”。

WeWork所在的行业本质上高度依赖整体经济——拉奥相信,如果出现下行周期,空置率的变化、公司扩张和经济增长都可能给“他们的业绩带来压力”。

长期以来WeWork的经营模式一直是长期租下办公场地,再把它们短租出去。实际情况表明,在市场格局不断变化的情况下,这种策略很受欢迎。但拉奥认为,WeWork需要在收入多元化方面投入更多资金,途径是开发出更多长期收入来源,比如收购更多写字楼,甚至是出租给医院或学校等更传统的用户。

不过,WeWork的会员(使用WeWork设备的租户)已经增至40.1万,约占该公司收入的88%,对其服务的需求显然非常旺盛。

但IPO前,这家公司需要让投资者看到它的长期发展规划,然后再由投资者来判断WeWork是否真的行之有效。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Mega office-space rental company The We Company (formerly WeWork) is planning an IPO later this year, and just announced a plan to raise $4 billion in debt in the meantime, the Wall Street Journal reported last Monday.

The debt issue serves two functions: To meet immediate cash flow needs, and also to take substantial pressure off the IPO itself. In fact, according to the report, the debt deal could allow WeWork to raise more money than their public debut could over the coming years, and prove to potential stock investors that the company has another, leaner way to access capital.

But the debt offering, which will be structured by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase (potentially among others), comes at a time when WeWork is bleeding cash. The office-space manager burned $1.9 billion on $1.8 billion revenue in 2018—even more than Uber’s reported $1.8 billion for last year.

That’s given some potential investors pause, as the memories of Uber and Lyft’s less-than-stellar debuts are still fresh. The ridesharing companies both went public with heavy losses, and both stocks have been volatile as neither have convinced investors they have a clear path to profitability. So if WeWork is to break the mold, here are the three things the company needs to do to avoid a similar fate.

Get granular

“I think there are definitely some learnings that WeWork could and should take from the Uber and Lyft filings,” Tom White, senior vice president and senior research analyst at D.A. Davidson, told Fortune.

For White, WeWork needs to emphasize a clear-cut path forward for investors to have confidence in the cash burning company—especially now that debt will be added to their balance sheet.

“The big lessons from the Uber and Lyft IPOs for these very large, unprofitable but transformational companies in many ways is that WeWork needs to provide a more detailed and granular roadmap about how it plans to achieve profitability over time, ” White says. He suggests WeWork provide an in-depth view on the unit economics and cohort analysis of their markets to help give investors a better picture of what they’re getting themselves into.

And White isn’t alone.

Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, a provider of institutional research and manager of IPO ETFs, thinks it will be “incumbent upon WeWork” to ensure investors understand their profit model—unlike Lyft or Uber did, Smith suggests.

This preview of how the market received Lyft and Uber is a major benefit for the workspace company, Santosh Rao, head of research at Manhattan Venture Partners, believes. “I think they’ve seen the writing on the wall, so to speak, ” Rao says.

WeWork’s model largely focuses on short-term leases, but the company is beginning to diversify by looking to buy buildings and expand globally, Rao says. And as the company takes on more debt (WeWork already has some $702 million raised last year with a hefty 7.9% interest rate), moving into enterprise renting and long-term leases would provide WeWork with the recurring revenue that is attractive to bond holders, Rao says.

But analysts suggest WeWork’s second lesson from those that came before it should be to watch the valuation.

Price appropriately

With an estimated valuation of $47 billion heading to market, WeWork is asking a lot from investors. And to Jane Leung, the managing director and chief investment officer at Scenic Advisement, the market is already skeptical.

“I think investors are really careful around these companies with extremely lofty valuations, and they should be, ” Leung says. She believes WeWork needs to be transparent in order to "alleviate investors’ fear" that the company is doomed to follow in Uber and Lyft’s footsteps.

Both ridesharing stocks have since traded below their high IPO prices, and Leung says the hype surrounding the stocks when they first debuted may have pushed their pre-IPO valuations to “lofty” heights. With a high burn rate and now new debt, Renaissance Capital’s Smith thinks WeWork’s valuation will be affected.

“The issue is, they’ve got to be priced right, ” Smith said. “They’ve got to come at some significant discount for investors to not be so worried that they’ll break the IPO price.”

But what’s the right price?

From what she’s seen, Leung thinks the stock might trade closer to its value in the secondary markets—which, she says, is about half their current $47 billion valuation.

Diversify

But while Rao suggests investors in the current IPO climate have an appetite for companies like WeWork, he maintains the company’s business model “is kind of risky.”

By nature, WeWork’s industry is heavily dependent on the overall economic market—shifts in vacancy rates, company expansion and economic growth could all put a “strain on their financials” if there is a downturn, Rao believes.

WeWork’s model has long been to take on long-term leases and lease them out short-term—a strategy that has proven popular in the shifting workplace landscape. But Rao believes the company will need to invest more in diversifying their revenue streams by developing more long-term revenue sources—such as buying more buildings and even leasing to hospitals or schools with more traditional leases, he says.

Still, with an increase in members (those using WeWork’s facilities) to 401,000 accounting for some 88% of their revenue, it’s clear the demand for their services is very much alive.

But before an IPO, WeWork needs a plan for investors to see the long-term play—then it will be up to investors to see if WeWork actually works.

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