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A Busy, Busy Week for IPOs

The week of Oct. 29 will stand out in my mind for many reasons, but especially because of how busy we were.

This past week thirteen equity syndicate deals came to market, making this the busiest week since that of July 23, when 14 deals where priced. This week's offerings included three IPOs, each of which we had high hopes for. The nice thing is that all three lived up to our expectations.

The deal you had to have loved was Anthem (ATH), the Indianapolis-based Blue Cross/Blue Shield operator. Not only did Anthem turn in a 13.6% first-day gain from its IPO price of $36, the stock has continued to make gains, closing today at around $43.00.

In a Columnist Conversation post earlier this week, I offered Wellpoint Health (WLP) as a perfect comp to Anthem. Wellpoint's price history is a virtual roadmap of the potential of Anthem. Am I blowing smoke? Time will tell.

Two other deals this week were Odyssey Healthcare (ODSY), a provider of hospice services in the U.S., and Logicvision (LGVN), a developer of semiconductor-related technologies. Both of these IPOs performed as we expected, producing healthy first-day gains.

Next week presents a full calendar as well, with 11 items scheduled to price. Of these, two are IPOs. I wouldn't lose any sleep over this, but both of these new issues are what I would call shopworn. By this I mean to say that they've been seen for a while and there is at least the appearance that these deals are somewhat stale.

Universal Hospital Services (proposed symbol UHOS:Nasdaq) has been pushed from week to week for some time, and the underwriters are still calling it "day-to-day." Something's not right with this piece of business, since the current environment is an easy time to get deals done. Universal Hospital Services should have been priced and settled by now. I will not write about it again except to say that the deal was either priced or withdrawn.

Another stiff slice of bread is Amerigroup (proposed symbol AMGP:Nasdaq), out of Banc of America Securities. This deal was just placed on the calendar for next week but has the unique distinction of having been in registration for a total of 532 days. This is a very long time, but I will not discount the deal based on that fact alone. See my column on Monday for my thoughts on Amerigroup.

Have a great weekend.

Ben Holmes is the founder of ipoPros.com, a Boulder, Colo.-based research boutique (now a wholly-owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com) specializing in the analysis of equity syndicate offerings. This column is not meant as investment advice; it is instead meant to provide insight into the methods of new and secondary offerings. Neither Holmes nor his firm has entered indications of interest in any of the companies discussed in this column. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Holmes appreciates your feedback and invites you to send it to Ben Holmes.

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