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Solid IPO Debuts Bolster Market

Stocks of four companies rise or hold steady, extending what has been a good year so far for new offerings.

February 13, 2004|From Dow Jones/Associated Press

Four companies from a variety of sectors rose or held steady in their market debuts Thursday, extending this year's good start in the market for initial public offerings.

One of the strongest IPOs was that of Atheros Communications Inc. Coming into the week, the Sunnyvale, Calif., maker of chips for "WiFi" wireless computer networking planned to sell 9 million shares at $9.50 to $11.50 a share.

But the price range on the offering was raised to $11.50 to $13.50, and the IPO ultimately priced at $14.

Shares of Atheros closed at $17.60, up 26%, on Nasdaq.

Atheros shares are still at a discount to its peers, said Francis Gaskins, president of in Brentwood, even though its sales "seems to me to have shown more momentum than the other companies."

After reporting no revenue in 2000, it ended 2003 with $87.4 million in revenue, though it did report a $13.2-million net loss last year. Still, that loss was narrower than the $22.4-million loss on $22.2 million in revenue for 2002.

Biopharmaceutical company Corgentech Inc. sold more shares in its IPO than expected, offering 6 million shares instead of 5 million.

Corgentech, based in San Francisco, priced its IPO at $16, the high end of talk of $14 to $16 a share. The shares ended up 34%, at $21.40, on Nasdaq.

Another strong gain came from Bristol West Holdings Inc., a nonstandard auto insurer based in Davie, Fla., though it didn't price its IPO above views. Rather, Bristol West sold its 15 million shares at $20 each, the middle of price expectations of $19 to $21 a share.

The shares ended at $22.80, a gain of 14%, on the New York Stock Exchange.

The weakest debut came from Denver real estate investment trust Affordable Residential Communities Inc., which sold 24.5 million shares at $19 each, the bottom of estimates of $19 to $21 a share, through Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co.

The stock closed at $19 on the New York Stock Exchange, unchanged from the offering price.

Regardless of their performance, though, the four IPOs trading Thursday continue to mark what has been a good year for new stock issuance. So far this year, there have been 21 initial public offerings, raising $5.06 billion, according to data from Thomson Financial in Newark, N.J.

By contrast, at this time last year there had been just two IPOs, raising $209 million.

The IPO activity so far marks the busiest start for the IPO market since 2000. That year, 46 companies had come to market by Feb. 12, according to Thomson Financial.

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