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Stock Market Decline Takes Shine Off 2011 IPOs

TALI ARBEL

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ This was supposed to be the year of the IPO comeback.

Six months into 2011, the market for initial public offerings was stronger than before the recession. The number of companies looking to raise money through new stock offerings was on pace for a decade high. Shares of companies that had gone public earlier in the year, on average, had posted gains.

But after that strong start, the market for new stock offerings fizzled in 2011 as the prospect of a global slowdown and a prolonged European debt crisis battered financial markets. High-profile Internet companies like Groupon, LinkedIn and Zynga â¿¿ which went public Friday â¿¿ attracted attention. But overall, companies didn't raise as much as they hoped for through IPOs. Main Street investors, who generally don't have access to IPO shares until after they start trading, were likely the biggest losers.

Daniel Graeber, a journalist and professor from Grand Rapids, Mich., bought 15 shares of Groupon for $30 each the day it went public, hoping the deals company would be the next Google Inc. or Amazon.com Inc. He's lost money so far, but the 38-year-old said he's modestly optimistic that shares will recover.

"The only way to have played the game this year â¿¿ the way I always play it â¿¿ is to have flipped on day one. Take your profit and move on. People who haven't have been decimated," said long-time IPO investor Scott Sweet, who owns IPO Boutique. Sweet bought IPO shares of many big companies like daily deals site Groupon and career networking site LinkedIn and sold them on their first trading day.

It wasn't a bad strategy. Groupon, which debuted in November, rose 31 percent on its first trading day, but has dropped 12 percent since. LinkedIn more than doubled in its debut. While it's still up about 50 percent from its offering price, the stock has lost 30 percent from its first trading day. In June, Internet radio company Pandora Media Inc. rose 9 percent. On Friday it closed at $10.55, a 34 percent slide from its IPO price. Stock in technology companies that went public in the past 12 months have fallen 15 percent, according to Renaissance Capital. Some of that stems from broader market declines. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is down about 8 percent from the end of June.

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