ATLANTA — Founded in 1997, AutoTrader.com, which operates an online automotive marketplace, filed last Friday with the Securities Exchange Commission to raise up to $300 million in an initial public offering. The filing represents the company second attempt at an IPO, as well as the first since Facebook’s troubled IPO in May.
AutoTrader.com filed back in April 2000 — just past the peak of the dot-com bubble — with just $5 million in sales and $47 million in losses. It subsequently withdrew its registration statement in November 2000. Today, the company looks vastly different than its tech bubble profile. For the 12 months ending on March 31, Autotrader.com generated $1.1 billion in sales, $335 million in adjusted EBITDA and $62 million in net income. The company, which generates the bulk of its revenue from selling pay-for-placement listing subscriptions to dealers, saw revenue growth accelerate in 2011, increasing 39 percent year-over-year compared to a 17 percent increase in 2010.
A large part of Autotrader.com's 2011 revenue growth was driven by four acquisitions, most notably KBB, which it purchased for $532 million in December 2010. KBB generated more than $120 million in standalone sales in both 2009 and 2010. Autotrader.com, whose major shareholders include Cox Enterprises and Providence Equity Partners, plans to list on the NASDAQ under the symbol “ATG.” Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the joint book runners on the deal. No pricing terms were disclosed.
Autotrader.com's S-1 filing not only marks first Internet company to file for an IPO since Facebook's debut, it also represents only the sixth U.S. filing since the May 18. The five others include IT software company Qualys (QLYS), Realogy parent Domus Holdings (DMSH.RC), PMIC provider iWatt (IWAT), South American retailer Cencosud S.A. (CNCO) and Jamaican bank National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCJ).
Autotrader.com also was the only company to file for an IPO during the week of June 11, as market tensions were high ahead of Sunday's Greek elections.