CEOs Say IPO Rebound Is Over A Year Away –

Ready for more bad news? A new poll of chief executive officers predicts that the IPO market is unlikely to pick up until after 2004.

Ernst & Young conducted the survey in early May at its 7th annual IPO Transformation ~ CEO Retreat, which brought together executives from 50 North American growth companies in life sciences, retail, technology, consumer products and manufacturing.

About 28% of those surveyed said they hoped to take their companies public in the second half of 2004, but a larger group (41%) said they expect to file an IPO later than 2004.

Surprisingly, two-thirds of the respondents rated the IPO climate as “difficult, but not impossible.” That’s an interesting choice of words, given that just a single U.S.-based, venture-backed company was able to go public as of the end of April: Accredited Home Lenders.

During the same period last year, six companies managed to make it out: Synaptics, a maker of touch input devices, and drug company Zymogenetics went out in January, followed by online payment service PayPal in February, real estate services company WCI Communities in March and airline JetBlue and Medical Staffing Network in April.

Of the group that made it out, three of the stocks are trading at less than their IPO price. In fact, the only real winner besides PayPal (acquired by eBay) was JetBlue, which was trading at $32.50 on May 13, up from its IPO price of $18. When you see numbers like that, it’s not really surprising that investors aren’t hungry for new issues. They are quite content to look for values among “old” issues.