IPO Market Pauses

Monday looks like a day of rest between Friday’s wild IPO fest and the
flood of public offerings expected this week.

Nine companies made their ticker debuts Friday, including several
Internet players. And while the explosive gain for shares of optical
networking vendor Avanex (AVNX)
(up 378 percent) attracted the most attention – as one would expect from the
10th-best first-day IPO performance of all time – it was one of the
other offerings that caught my eye.

eOn Communications (EONC),
which makes Linux-based communications servers and software, finished
Friday with a 92 percent gain, closing at $23 after offering 3 million shares
at $12. While most companies could live with nearly doubling in value in
their first day of trading, EONC appears to be have set a mark for the
worst debut yet by a Linux company.

Other Linux debuts:
Red Hat (RHAT)Red
Hat – up 272 percent
VA Linux Systems (LNUX)
– up 698 percent
Cobalt Networks (COBT)
– up 482 percent
Andover.Net (ANDN)
– 252 percent

That’s pretty fast company to keep. Even more embarrassing, EONC opened
at 31 1/8 before falling during the day. (What will the Linux neighbors
say!)

Fortunately, eOn rebounded Monday, climbing nearly 15 percent to 26 3/8 by
Monday afternoon.

Another noteworthy Friday debut came from FirePond (FIRE),
a seller of integrated e-commerce sales and marketing software. Shares
of FIRE soared to 100-1/4 by day’s end, a 356 percent increase over the $22 per
share offer price. I thought this IPO would do well, but it even
exceeded my expectations.

Over the year we’ll start to see B2B e-commerce companies position
themselves to stand out from the pack. Or in the case of eMerge Interactive (EMRG),
the herd.

eMmerge, which operates a Web site targeting the cattle industry, gained
215 percent in its first day of trading on Friday. The company’s site offers
live cattle sales and auctions, news and information and software for
running a cattle business.


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