What is an Initial Offering Date?

An initial offering date is the date on which a security is first made available for public purchase. Initial offering dates can be advertised for all types of securities, with stocks and managed funds being two of the most common.

Understanding Initial Offering Date

The initial offering date is set during the underwriting process. All types of securities will work with an underwriting team, either in house or externally, to prepare a security for its initial offering date. The underwriting and filing process for offering new securities in the market is different for each security. Stocks and mutual funds provide two examples of the most common types of new offerings.

Historically, new offerings are often underpriced leading up to their initial offering date, which can potentially provide for large capital gains at issuance. This can also create pent-up demand for shares on the first day of trading and provide greater profit potential for those who can subscribe to the issue before the initial offering date.

Generally, new offerings will experience high trading volatility in the early phases of their public offering. This can occur more often for stocks since only a small percentage of the outstanding shares (typically less than 25%) is eligible to trade on the first day.

Key Takeaways

  • An initial offering date is a date set during the underwriting process on which a security is first made available for public purchase.
  • The initial offering date offers an opportunity for venture capitalists and early investors in a startup or company to cash out on their investments.

Stocks

Companies planning to offer their shares on a public market exchange must undergo a thorough due diligence and underwriting process. Companies typically partner with investment banks such as Bank of America, J.P. Morgan or Morgan Stanley for underwriting services.

Underwriters on new initial public offerings are generally responsible for leading the initial public offering process, undergoing all due diligence, setting the price of the offering and marketing the offering to investors. Underwriting agreements typically involve support from the underwriters in buying newly offered shares and contingent purchases for shares after trading in the open market for a specified timeframe.

Mutual Funds

For mutual funds, the process leading to an initial public offering is different than for public stocks, since funds are subject to different regulations and regulatory filing requirements. In a mutual fund offering, the company partners with a distributor who is also the principal underwriter on the fund. The distributor partners with the company’s legal and compliance teams to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which must include full details on the fund in a prospectus and statement of additional information.

Distributors serve as the underwriter, buy shares of the fund and are responsible for marketing the fund for its initial offering date. Distributors seek to list the fund with discount brokerages and financial advisor platforms across the industry. These are the primary channels of distribution for a mutual fund and are important for its launch.