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RealTime IT News

The Perils of Punditry

Many industry observers were stunned by Log On America's (LOA) sizzling public debut on Thursday.

Shares of the Rhode Island-based ISP (Nasdaq: LOAX) closed at $35 after opening late in the day at $29.69. LOA and lead underwriter Dirks & Co. offered 2.2 million shares at $10 each, with plans to raise $68 million.

When trading opened Friday morning, LOA's market value was $238 million. Not a bad showing for any Internet company daring to go public after two recent tremblers shook the cyberstock landscape, raising among bulls and day traders the suppressed dread that "this is all a dream," while emboldening Internet stock skeptics to gloatingly proclaim that they "had told us so."

Here's what one "expert" said only Wednesday about LOA's prospects for a successful IPO in the wake of renewed fears that Internet stocks have been wildly overvalued:

"I believe this is exactly the kind of offering that can get beaten up by a more discerning IPO market: A small company (nine full-time employees) with less than $1 million in annual revenue competing in a sector (one-stop Internet access services) where giants roam and where size matters."

That expert was me. Clearly I forgot the cardinal rule of punditry: Make predictions vague and well before the fact, because people tend to have short memories.

Well, I won't make that mistake again!

Congratulations to LOA for a very successful IPO, and good luck to its investors. They've proven two things: 1) The Internet IPO market has a strong chin, and 2) That market, much to my amazement, doesn't always listen to me.

Coming soon - wait, they're already here

Net Perceptions and Launch Media priced their shares Thursday, and may be trading by the time you read this on Friday.

Minneapolis-based Net Perceptions, which was profiled in Wednesday's Midday Report, makes Web filtering software designed to help advertisers better target customers. The company is offering 3.65 million shares at $14, in hopes of raising $51.1 million.

Launch Media, a community-oriented music Web site offering streaming videos, news, chat and, of course products for sale, is seeking to raise $74.8 million in an offering of 3.4 million shares at $22 apiece. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company was profiled last month.

I predict both companies will have impressive debuts.

Oops -- I guess I'll never learn.


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