The 5 Most Unforgettable IPOs of 2013

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bow of the Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) cruise ship Norwegian Epic inaugural cruise from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Southampton.
Alamy
This has been a good year for stocks, and that usually translates into the perfect climate for privately held companies to go public. If investors are hungry for stocks, that's a dinner bell for companies looking to enhance their access to financing by hitting a major stock exchange.

Many prolific companies took the IPO route in 2013. Here are some of the more recognizable members of this year's rookie class.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH)
Norwegian Cruise Lines joined its peers Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) as public companies when it went public at $19 in January.

Norwegian Cruise Lines injected new life into the once stodgy cruise-ship industry with its "freestyle cruising" platform that lets guests dine wherever and whenever they want. It has gone on to incorporate freestyle cruising across a dozen of its vessels, and consumers don't seem to mind.

Despite Carnival's well-publicized fiascos over the past two years, Norwegian Cruise Lines is coasting along nicely with revenue climbing 11 percent through the first nine months of the year.

SeaWorld (SEAS)
The operator of 11 marine life theme parks and water parks has been hitting the rough seas that Norwegian Cruise Lines has avoided this year. SeaWorld was originally a hot IPO when it went public at $27 in April, but sentiment has turned against the company since the summertime debut of "Blackfish."

The documentary takes SeaWorld to task for keeping the sometimes dangerous killer whales in captivity. The groundswell has resulted in a decline in attendance at SeaWorld, and the company is just now starting to fight back as musical acts have been urged by activists to cancel their upcoming shows.

Twitter (TWTR)
This year's most anticipated Internet offering has to be Twitter. The social media darling went public at $26 in November, and investors haven't been able to contain their enthusiasm about the IPO within 140 characters or less. Unlike Facebook's (FB) debut last year that was initially greeted with skepticism and an initial trading disruption, Twitter's deal has been well received after going off without a hitch.

Analysts -- including many of those that were lead underwriters in taking Twitter public less than two months ago -- have argued that Twitter is worth far more than $26, and the stock has gone on to nearly double. Twitter is just starting to monetize its heavy traffic, and its success on that front will ultimately dictate how high the shares ultimately go.

AMC Entertainment (AMC)
AMC Entertainment is the country's leading exhibitor with nearly 5,000 screens in operation. It went public earlier this month at $18.

Attendance at movie theaters has been stagnant lately, but AMC has been trying to milk more revenue out of its patrons by offering greater perks to those trekking out to the local multiplex. Improving concessions with better food and installing Coca-Cola (KO) "freestyle" dispensers that offer greater varieties of soda has helped, but so has its push to offer more premium experiences including super-sized projection systems and installing plush reclining seats with dine-in service at select locations.

Hilton Worldwide (HLT)
Hilton also went public in December. The global hotel giant priced its debut at $20. Like AMC, Hilton once traded publicly before being acquired by a private equity firm that decided this month would be the right time to give the public market another go.

Hilton isn't just about its high-end namesake hotels. Its brands include Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Conrad and Waldorf Astoria. Hilton's empire now consists of 4,000 hotels offering nearly 672,000 rooms across 90 different countries.

It all adds up in the end. Hilton is on track to generate nearly $6.4 billion in revenue this year. Things will continue to check out as long as guests continue to check in.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook and Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook.


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Mike

I would rate SeaWorld as a good buy now. Their stock might suffer in the short-term from \"Blackfish\", but it\'s probably a good long-term holding. Remember when Toyota\'s stuck throttles caused a Toyota uproar and everyone hated Toyota (for about 6 months....)

December 26 2013 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Twitter (TWTR)
Too bad for the poor stiffs who bought the penny stock \"Tweeter\" thinking it was \"Twitter\". They obviously flunked Ticker 101 class. Tweeter is a post-BK delisted stock, OOPS. One guy in a post said he made $250,000 by selling his \"Tweeter\" stock to those who mistook it for \"Twitter\" stock.

December 26 2013 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply