IDG is considering IPOs this year for three to four operating companies "depending on when the correction comes," said Chairman Patrick McGovern.
Mr. McGovern said IDG is weighing offerings in International Data Corp., its research business; PC World Online, a $15 million Internet operation; Web Publishing, which develops technology Web content; and ExecuTrain Corp., a computer training venture expanding into Web-based training.
PC World Online is a key component of IDG.net, IDG's network of 250 global sites. IDG's Web revenues are expected to grow 90% to more than $60 million in the year ending Sept. 30, Mr. McGovern said. IDG's narrowly focused Web offerings operate somewhat in the shadow of broad tech sites such as Ziff-Davis' ZDNet, which had revenues of $56 million last year.
Mr. McGovern's talk of stock sales comes as IDG looks for more opportunities on the Web. For example, IDG is working on a way to mesh offerings from ExecuTrain with the book business to offer "For Dummies" training over the Web and phone.
IDG, a global tech media powerhouse, made its first stock move last July when IDG Books Worldwide went public. The stock sale has allowed IDG Books to expand by buying, for example, Cliffs Notes. IDG Books' stock was trading midday Thursday at $20, up from its $15.50 initial public offering.
IDG Books' stock sale followed earlier offerings by tech media rivals CMP and Ziff-Davis. Ziff-Davis followed this year with an offering in ZDNet. CMP, meanwhile, is up for sale, with Ziff-Davis and IDG among prospective buyers.
Mr. McGovern said he foresees no stock offering in IDG itself "in the medium or short term. We think investors like businesses that are focused on specific markets."
Mr. McGovern said IDG is considering stock sales in the units as a way to attract and retain talent; to give units currency to make acquisitions; to raise the units' public profile; and to generate cash. But IDG itself sees advantages in staying private so it can manage for the long term without worrying about delivering quarterly results to Wall Street.
"We like the fact that we're private," Mr. McGovern said. "Our best strategy to maximize IDG's value and to maximize IDG's effectiveness in the marketplace is to stay private."
Mr. McGovern founded IDG in 1964 and retains 64% ownership. An employee stock plan owns the rest.
'IRRATIONAL' STOCK VALUES
Even as he looks toward stock offerings, Mr. McGovern doesn't profess to understand the market's "irrational" valuations on Internet stocks. When Ziff-Davis' stake in ZDNet surpassed the market valuation for all of Ziff-Davis (AA, April 5), Mr. McGovern said he called Ziff-Davis Chairman Eric Hippeau to rib him about how the market valued Ziff-Davis' print publications at "negative $600 million."
"I told him I would be happy to take them off his hands for $300 million to $400