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New Stock Offerings Are Off to a Slow Start

February 01, 2001|From Reuters

Only three companies floated new stock offerings last month--the slowest January in 21 years--but Wall Street deal makers are not yet showing signs of panic.

"Only three [initial public offerings] priced in the month . . . that ranks as one of the worst Januarys on record, with only about $160 million raised," said Richard Peterson, an analyst with Thomson Financial Securities Data.

The IPO market dried up late last year in the wake of the slump in technology stocks--but not before Wall Street had raised a record $4 billion in fees for helping companies go public. Investment bankers, however, put a positive spin on the tougher environment.

"Ultimately, [the IPO drought] will probably turn out to be a positive because companies should not go public until they're ready to go public, and meet the criteria of a public company," said Marc Paley, head of global equity capital markets at Lehman Bros.

The last time there were just three January IPOs, in 1980, only 146 companies went public in the remainder of the year. In 2000 more than 400 companies went to market, including foreign deals priced in both markets, some soaring fivefold on their debut.

A sleepy January does not necessarily portend a quiet year for IPOs, analysts said. The busiest January ever, when 60 issues were priced back in 1970, predated a slow year.

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