Researching dates of a listing (IPO)

Last week I did some research on IPO dates in the Databases SDC Platinum and Compustat North America. I was looking for the Original IPO (= very first exchange listing of shares at any stock exchange) dates for US companies. SDC Platinum database Global New Issue offers a simple variable to select the Original IPO records in the database: Original IPO (Yes/No). By including search variables for the security type and the nation you can, for instance, get all these dates for shares in a specific country. The variable that lists the (Original IPO) date of the issue is: Issue Date. Be sure to include the variable in your (custom) report to get it in the output.

The Compustat databases Global and North America also have a variable that lists the original IPO date. The variable is called IPODATE and the manual gives the following description: This item is the date of a company’s initial public stock offering. If the date of a company’s initial public stock offering is not available, the first trading date in the major exchange is used. This description is confusing and allows room for interpretation. After contacting the helpdesk I was told the following:

  • IPODATE has been introduced to Compustat database(s) in 2002
  • If a date is given on company that was listed before 2002 the variable IPODATE gives the date when a company was listed on a major exchange.

I did a small fact check with output from the SDC Platinum database Global New Issue and compared the Issue dates for a few US companies with the IPO dates given when I used the Compustat North America database. This limited check gave me the same IPO dates from both databases. This suggests to me that using the IPODATE variable from Compustat databases for doing research on IPO’s is a good method. More exhaustive tests may suggest otherwise. Depending on the scope and the  type of research you are doing, it may be a good idea to use the SDC Platinum database Global New Issue:

  • For large research purposes that covers many companies over a long time period (including data before 2002) SDC Platinum is the main source
  • For research covering a smaller number of companies and a smaller time frame (from 2002 to now) Compustat databases may be sufficient.

NB: Although SDC Platinum Global New Issue is a more authorative source for data it is by no means perfect. See an earlier post I did on data quality from this database.

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