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IPOs Chalk Up an $8.31-Billion First Quarter

April 08, 1998|From Bloomberg News

Initial public stock sales picked up the pace in the first quarter as companies raised $8.31 billion, half of it in March.

Six of the top 10 issues, in a bullish time for stocks, had more than doubled from their initial prices by March 31.

VeriSign Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based maker of software used to verify identity on the Internet, put in the quarter's best performance, with a gain of 214%. Global TeleSystems Group Inc., a company backed by investor George Soros that sells telephone service in Russia and Europe, rose 134%.

This year's first-quarter initial public offering volume exceeded last year's by $1.05 billion. Sales picked up after January, when slowness reflected a traditional post-holiday lull and late 1997's difficult market condition. The Dow Jones industrial average began reaching records again in February, and the Russell 2,000 index of smaller stocks followed suit in March.

Stocks of technology firms, especially Internet- and computer-related companies, toted up the best gains during the quarter.

Visual Networks Inc., a Rockville, Md.-based designer and manufacturer of wide-area network computer systems, rose 108%. DoubleClick Inc., a New York-based Internet advertising company, rose 107%. Micromuse, a San Francisco software developer, rose 103%. Exodus Communications Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based manager of Internet systems for businesses, rose 87%--including 84% in its first day of trading.

More-established, non-technology companies also performed well, illustrating the overall strength of IPOs during the quarter, said Paul Donahue, a principal in Morgan Stanley's equity capital markets group.

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