The next 12 months may not prove as rich for initial public offerings as the last year. But to Wall Street bankers, 2014 still promises an abundance of opportunity.
And that could include what may be one of the biggest market debuts in years: that of Alibaba, the Chinese Internet behemoth.
(Read more: Here's what the 2014 tech IPO pipeline looks like)
Even as global merger activity turned in another lackluster performance, the business of taking companies public soared. The amount raised by IPO's in the United States last year jumped 40 percent over 2012, to $59.3 billion, according to data from Thomson Reuters.
Overall activity in equity capital markets banking totaled nearly $797 billion for the year, up 27 percent and one of the best years in recent memory. Fees for bankers in the field rose 34 percent from the previous year, to $17.9 billion, in what Thomson Reuters described as the highest level in three years.
The FTSE Renaissance Global IPO Index, which tracks the returns of newly public shares, returned 31.7 percent last year through Dec. 17, outstripping the MSCI All Country World Index's 15.4 percent.
Advisers are quick to caution that such a run — one with a number of big stock market debuts, like those of Hilton Worldwide, the animal health company Zoetis and, of course, Twitter — will be hard to duplicate. But as long as the economy holds up, so will the stock markets, prompting private companies to look to share sales to raise money.
"I would be surprised if the overall market is up 25 percent or more next year, but I'm optimistic and think it's still trending upward," John S. Daly, the head of Americas equity capital markets at Goldman Sachs, said.
(Read more: Five memorable tech IPO moments)
Behind the IPO boom are the usual factors, bankers say. Encouraging economic conditions drove impressive stock market growth, particularly in the United States. (Last year was the first time since 2004 that the highest share of IPO proceeds were raised in North America, at 34 percent.)
Investors proved especially eager to buy into new stocks: The flow of money into stock mutual funds outpaced money going into bond funds last year, providing a big source of capital waiting to be spent on new offerings.