I’ve just run the chart for credit-card processor Visa’s debut this morning on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol “V,” and I’m not crazy about it. The chart, set at 9:30 a.m. in New York, has a 25 degree Taurus rising, which is squared by a conjunction of Neptune and the North Node in Aquarius. This spells inflated expectations to me. The initial public actually priced yesterday at $44 a share, above the forecast range of $37 to $42. With 406 million Class A common shares sold, the offering raised a total of $17.9 billion, setting a record for the largest IPO.
Some astrologers would probably run a chart for yesterday’s pricing, but I think the Big Board debut is a better picture of the stock’s prospects, especially because the little guy normally can’t get in on the IPO allotments.
Big institutional investors have flocked to the IPO because of Visa’s lack of exposure to the subprime crisis and the spectacular returns of the MasterCard, whose shares have skyrocketed 400% since that credit-card processor’s May, 2006, IPO. Nevertheless, there are a couple of features of the chart for the Big Board debut of Visa that give me pause.
For one, a serious Moon/Saturn conjunction in Virgo in the fifth house of speculation is opposed by a Mercury/Venus conjunction in Pisces. The sober fifth house features suggest that there could be a contraction in credit-card transactions, which would cut into Visa’s revenues, or there could be pressure on its fees, which is how it makes its money — by processing credit- and debit-card transactions.
The other thing about the chart that I’m not thrilled about is that the Sun is in the last degree of Pisces. Sure, it’s broadly sextiled by Jupiter in Capricorn, which also broadly trines the Ascendant. But I’m not a fan of last degrees and certainly not a fan of the last degree of the zodiac, which is associated with the end of the cycle and sacrifice.
We’ll have to see how things play out for Visa. Certainly, I’m not the only skeptic. Matt Kranz of USA Today had this to say: http://www.usatoday.com/money/markets/2008-02-25-visa-ipo_N.htm
Visa shares could certainly close up substantially on the first day of Big Board trading. But I have a nagging suspicion that the company’s growth may face obstacles that aren’t readily apparent now. An inkling of the not-so-good news could come as soon as Monday, June 16, when Pluto moves back to 29 degrees of Sagittarius and squares the Sun of Visa’s opening day chart.
Call me cynical, but financial industry types have a history of going public not too long before the you-know-what hits the fan. Case in point: Blackstone Group (BX), whose shares rose 14%, to $35.06, on their first day of trading on June 22, 2007, dubbed “Blackstone Friday.” Fast-forward nine months to Mar. 10, when the fabled private equity group reported a $170 million loss for the fourth quarter. Where’s BX trading now? At this moment, it’s at $14.64, down about 42% from the close on Blackstone Friday.
I know, I know: Blackstone Chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman feels your pain. Even though Schwarzman pocketed an estimated $4.78 billion last year, according to the Associated Press, the value of his stock options has declined. Thank heavens he still had enough spare change to donate $100 million to the New York Public Library earlier this month. That’s a good thing because it insures that future investors in IPOs of financial stocks will be able to go the library and read up on how not to get taken to the cleaners. Recommended reading: “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefevre.