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Don't Go Yet, Folks, We Have More in Store

In show business they call it the "walk-out" act. It's the performer thrown up on stage to entertain stragglers in the crowd after the headliner blows away the house with a dazzling star turn.

Through no fault of their own, that's the role @plan and fashionmall.com are in Friday in the wake of eToys' monster debut. The online retailer of toys and games closed Thursday at $76.56 after pricing at $20 per share. The resulting 283% opening-day gain is the fourth-best of 1999, topped only by CBS MarketWatch.com, priceline.com and Healtheon. That's pretty fast company.

With the IPO audience still buzzing about eToys, @plan and fashionmall.com each have priced shares and may begin trading Friday.

@plan is one of many companies promising to give its clients detailed, accurate demographic profiles of about 40,000 Web users. The Stamford, Conn.-based company sells its services to e-tailers, Internet advertisers and ad agencies.

While @plan's name isn't well known, the company that actually does the data collection on its behalf is - The Gallup Organization. That association could be critical, for @plan faces intense competition from a number of competitors with higher Web profiles, such as Media Metrix, Nielsen Media Research/NetRatings and DoubleClick, as well as I/PRO, 24/7 Media and NetGravity.

Revenue for @plan grew from about $400,000 in 1997 to $3.1 million last year -- a 637% increase -- while losses in those same periods fell from $2.8 million to $1.9 million. Investors should like both trends.

Hambrecht & Quist is lead underwriter for the offering of 2.5 million shares at $14. @plan will trade on Nasdaq under the symbol APLN.

The other Internet IPO that should begin trading Friday, fashionmall.com, was profiled in a March Midday Report, so I'll avoid a rehashing of those details.

It's worth noting, however, that since that column ran, fashionmall.com has reported Q1 earnings of $770,000, an 84% increase over the Q1 '98 figures. Net loss for the quarter was $39,000, less than half of the $86,000 reported in 1998's first quarter.

The company is offering 3 million shares at $13 each. Lead underwriteris Gruntal & Co.; Nasdaq symbol will be FASH.

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