RealTime IT News

After Lull, IPO Field Gets Crowded

Just when it looked like the recent Internet stocks and IPO aftermarket slump might be slowing down the rush to go public, five 'Net companies priced shares Thursday for trading as early as Friday.

Two of those five upped their proposed pricing range at the 11th hour. Internet services provider Viant priced its 3 million shares at $16, well above the original proposed pricing range of $10 to $12. And search engine company GoTo.com priced 6 million shares at $15 after initially setting a price range of $11-$13.

GoTo.com had shot up 9 to 24 just after midday and Viant had jumped 10-1/16 to 26-1/16.

Through Thursday this has been one of the slowest weeks of the year for new Internet offerings, with only GenesisIntermedia.com making a ticker debut, and a disappointing one at that.

The interactive marketing services company on Monday priced 2 million shares at $8.50. The stock, trading under the Nasdaq symbol GENI, closed at $8.38, down 1.4%. It was the first Internet stock in June to end its first day of trading below its offer price, though several others - Online Resources & Communications, foreignTV.com and Litronic - barely finished Day 1 above their respective offer prices.

While neither Viant nor GoTo.com's pricings approach the aggressive $20-plus per share pricings commonly seen earlier this year, they indicate unusual confidence in a soft market. Especially on the part of GoTo.com, which had less than $1 million in sales last year yet seeks to raise $90 million in its offering. (See April 19 Midday Report.)

Viant, in contrast, had $20 million in revenue in '98 and seeks to raise $48 million. It will trade under the Nasdaq ticker VIAN.

The other three companies pricing Thursday were:

  • Student Advantage, a membership site that offers college students discounts on a number of goods and services, and provides an online community containing news, information and personal home pages. (If the company could sell fake IDs, we'd have a definite winner here.) Here's something unusual: Student Advantage has priced its 6 million shares at $8, below the $10-$12 pricing range. How unassuming.

  • Streamline.com, a quasi-Internet company whose real business is home delivery of goods such as groceries, flowers and rented videos. Customers can place orders via the Internet, fax and - how's this for low-tech? - the telephone. Like Student Advantage, Streamline.com also has set an offer price ($10 per share) below its proposed price range ($11-$13). The company is offering 4.5 million shares under the Nasdaq symbol SLNE.

  • Free e-mailer Mail.com, which is offering 6.85 million shares at $7 each, comfortably in the middle of its bizarre proposed pricing range of $6.375 to $8.375. (Note to Mail.com: Round up.) The company was profiled in the March 17 MiddayReport.

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