BigStar, Others Stumble Out of IPO Gate

Summer sell-offs and short rides be damned, the Internet IPOs just keep
coming: More than 20 ‘Net companies are slated to launch stock offerings
this week.

You read correctly. This week, not this month. And right after a
stunning flurry last week (11 IPOs in three days) that enabled July to
set a record for the most Internet public offerings.

Four IPOs were priced Monday for trading Tuesday: 1-800-FLOWERS.COM,
BigStar Entertainment, Quotesmith.com and Splitrock Services. By early Tuesday afternoon, each had opened
at or close to their respective offering prices)

Like a number of Internet companies that went public in the second half
of July, when the entire ‘Net stock universe hit a slump, BigStar’s
debut on Tuesday had little bang to it. Offering 2.5 million shares at
$10 each, the Silicon Alley company opened at $10 before falling to
$8.03 by 1 p.m.

While BigStar began operations in March 1998, it didn’t start generating
significant revenue until this year, when it reported $1.45 million in
Q1, compared to $789,000 in ’98. However, based on the $3 million net
loss in Q1, BigStar could be on track to lose $12 million this year.

The company’s IPO has several factors working against it: 1) There is a
glut of ‘Net IPOs, which is dragging down first-day and aftermarket
performances across the board; 2) The market has been “soft” on
e-tailers all summer, as that category is among the poorest performers
in recent weeks among the 12 sectors listed in our Internet StockTracker
weekly newsletter, and 3) Fierce competition, especially on pricing,
from Amazon.com and countless other e-tailers, as well entertainment
companies such as Sony.

Hundreds of local video stores have been wiped out in recent years by
chains like Blockbuster that moved into the neighborhood. On the Web, of
course, there’s a large seller of videocassettes, DVDs and laser disks
on every corner. It’s hard to see BigStar flourishing in this heatedenvironment. At some point a merger or acquisition is likely.


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