RFID Bellwether Alien Again Postpones Its IPO

First, Alien's scheduled IPO launch was delayed a day, and now it's delayed "until market conditions improve."

Alien Technology, which grabbed the coveted "RFID" trading symbol, was scheduled to launch its initial public offering July 27, but then moved to July 28. Now, however, it has "decided to postpone its IPO due to market conditions," Alien spokesperson Sue Barnes said in an e-mail to reporters.

Barnes stressed that this is not necessarily a permanent move, and other Wall Street observers said the company seems to evaluating on a day-by-day basis.

"It has not withdrawn or canceled the offering and will complete the offering when market conditions improve," Barnes said.

The IPO has been watched closely as it will give Wall Street an opportunity to comment on its RFID sentiments through this signature trading symbol, which will let Alien enjoy the fruits—and suffer the punishments—of an RFID movement with an uncertain future.

The Alien IPO prospectus caused a bit of a stir because of its candid comments about RFIDs challenges, which have been well-documented in various analyst reports, including a recent report from the Aberdeen Group. The author of that Aberdeen report and other analysts discussed Aliens challenges at a retail technology site audiocast July 27 and concluded that Alien could fare quite well if Wall Street permits.

Alien had been expected to offer 9 million shares at an anticipated $10 to $12 a share in a bid to raise $99 million in its IPO July 28.

Pete Abell, a veteran RFID analyst who now works for IDC, is skeptical when—and whether—Aliens IPO will happen. Even though Aliens statement says it will happen when market conditions improve, Abell said, "They always say that, but with no next date, they better have some great new news, which is highly unlikely."

"The key problem is that they continue to hemorrhage money. Their highly self-touted FSA manufacturing process gets yields in the 15 percent range, and they currently sell readers to Wal-Mart at $200 below manufacturing cost," said Abell, the program director for RFID at IDCs Manufacturing Insights. Texas Instruments "has a great new UHF chip just certified by EPCglobal, which will compete with Impinj, and Aliens is an also-ran."

Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com.


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