December 1, 2023 — Rapid technological development in artificial intelligence, combined with expected interest rate declines, have spurred animal spirits and led to a rally in technology and speculative stocks this year. One of the leading innovation ETFs is up more than 50% year-to-date, as investors began pricing in an aggressive rate-cutting cycle from the Federal Reserve. Low interest rates are like manna from heaven for risky securities.
This year’s speculative fervour and stock market rally are similar to those caused by the massive liquidity surge and flood of monetary stimulus powered by central banks beginning in April 2020.
However, one significant difference between the current bullish sentiment and 2020’s Covid stimulus-led bull market is the activity in blank check companies.
For example, new SPAC issuance boomed as the Fed cut interest rates to zero several years ago. SPAC IPO issuance surged from $12.1 billion in 2019, to $82 billion in 2020, to a shocking $163 billion in 2021.
While equity markets are equally as frothy as they were during the tail end of the bull market that began in the spring of 2020, interest in special-purpose acquisition companies remains moribund. New issuance has plunged -98.3% compared with two years ago.
Year-to-date SPAC issuance stands at just $2.7 billion, raised across 28 vehicles. This year’s new issuance activity represents the lowest level of blank check IPOs since 2014.
While the SPAC boom in 2020 and 2021 led to a dramatic oversupply compared to the pre-boom level of approximately $25 billion, the current below-average level of SPAC IPO issuance leaves the market at risk of a significant deficit of blank check vehicles in the near term.
Currently, the SPAC market stands at $19.1 billion in total, a -22% drop compared to the asset class size at the start of 2020.
Over the next twelve months, $14.8 billion, or nearly 80% of the SPAC market, is set to mature.
The previous SPAC glut is now turning into a deficit, which supports of a rapid increase in new issuance. If we believe a normalized SPAC market is approximately $20 billion, we’ll need to see about $1 billion of new blank check vehicles issued monthly. Thus far in 2023, an average of $295 million has been issued every 30 days.
There have been signs of a nascent market recovery in November, with four new SPACs issued, raising approximately $645 million. There were two new issues on the larger side, both from repeat sponsors, including the $170 million Colombier Acquisition II (Disclosure: we are long in the Accelerate Arbitrage Fund (TSX: ARB)) and Riverstone’s $345 million Agriculture & Natural Solutions Acquisition.
An additional bright spot is some deSPACs have been getting acquired at premiums to their going-public price of $10.00. Recent examples include:
- Blackstone’s announced buyout of Rover Group (formerly Nebula Caravel Acquisition) for $11.00 cash per share on November 29th
- Crescent Point’s announced acquisition of Hammerhead Energy (formerly Decarbonization Plus Acquisition IV) for approximately $15.00 in cash and shares on November 6th
- Eli Lilly’s tender offer for POINT Biopharma (formerly Therapeutics Acquisition) at $12.50 cash (and potentially heading higher), announced on October 3rd
While stock market bulls party like it’s 1999, with the S&P 500 up more than 20% year-to-date, perhaps the SPAC market is due to thaw from the deep freeze it has been stuck in since 2021. Early indications show nascent green shoots. It is to be seen whether this early SPAC market momentum will continue.
The Accelerate AlphaRank SPAC Monitor details various metrics on the current opportunity set while offering details on every individual SPAC currently outstanding. The Accelerate AlphaRank SPAC Effective Yield tracks the average arbitrage yield offered. The Accelerate AlphaRank SPAC Index tracks the price return of the SPAC universe.
* AlphaRank is exclusively produced by Accelerate Financial Technologies Inc. (“Accelerate”). The Accelerate Arbitrage Fund may hold a number of securities discussed in this research. Visit AccelerateShares.com for more information.
Disclaimer: This research does not constitute investment, legal or tax advice. Data provided in this research should not be viewed as a recommendation or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities or investment strategies. The information in this research is based on current market conditions and may fluctuate and change in the future. No representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made on behalf of Accelerate as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein. Accelerate does not accept any liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of relying on all or any part of this research and any liability is expressly disclaimed. Accelerate may have positions in securities mentioned. Past performance is not indicative of future results.