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Top IPOs of 2009: Five Stocks to Watch

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Initial public offerings in 2009 were a tale of two drastically different worlds.

The year started at a snail's-pace for all the obvious reasons, with no deals whatsoever coming to market until February. Even then, a mere 14 IPOs were completed in the first half of the year.

But by the fall, the market had regained speed. In particular, October and November were stellar months, both seeing double-digit deals. In terms of the sheer volume of IPOs, the fourth quarter alone is on track to beat the rest of the year combined.

By the end of 2009, 63 companies had gone to market this year. That compared with 31 total deals in 2008. "We are now back to a normally functioning IPO market," says Bill Buhr, IPO strategist at Morningstar.

(One interesting note: The top three IPOs of 2009, as measured by stock returns, came from China. This isn't surprising, considering that investors are looking for growth, says Eric Guja, research analyst at Renaissance Capital -- and China is, of course, where today's growth is.)

Buhr says this momentum should extend into the New Year -- although any volatility in the markets could stymie deals. And although there are no blockbuster deals in the pipeline, there are many are solid companies. "These aren't sexy names," Tim Walker, industry expert at Hoover's, says. "They are coming to the market in a reasonable manner, at a fair price and are being bought at rational premiums."

With this as a background, we present the Top Five IPOs of 2009, in terms of stock performance. Each merits attention moving into 2010 -- and offers insight to which new offerings might break-out in the coming year.

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