Expedia More Than Triples in Price in Its Trading Debut

Three other companies, including the record-setting UPS, all premiered with stellar performances.
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Expedia

(EXPE) - Get Report

made a spectacular debut Wednesday, more than tripling in price.

The 5.2 million shares offered were priced at $14 a share, opened at 37 and closed at 53 7/16, after trading as high as 63. A wholly owned subsidiary of

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

prior to the initial public offering, the online travel agency is now a separate company, 86.4% owned by Microsoft. Even so, it continues to be the exclusive provider of travel services on Microsoft's

MSN

network of Internet services.

Expedia faces competition from a large number of travel-related sites, including

Yahoo! Travel

, a unit of

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

; and

Travelocity

, owned by

Sabre Holdings

(TSG) - Get Report

. The competition will only get more fierce, as Travelocity and

Preview Travel

(PTVL)

announced in October that they would merge. Other travel sites include

Cheap Tickets

(CTIX)

and

priceline.com

(PCLN)

.

However, priceline and Expedia employ different business models for the purchase of airline tickets. "priceline enables customers to name their price in exchange for relinquishing a certain degree of flexibility," said Ryan Alexander, an analyst at

Wit Capital

, "while Expedia provides more traditional travel agent services." Alexander rates priceline a buy and his firm has participated in underwriting for the company.

Goldman Sachs

and

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

are joint book-running managers for the offering.

Three other companies also listed

today .

United Parcel Service

(UPS) - Get Report

closed up 17 1/4 to 67 1/4. The offering was led by

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

, and co-managed by

Goldman Sachs

,

Merrill Lynch

,

Credit Suisse First Boston

,

Salomon Smith Barney

and

Warburg Dillon Read

. Internet telephony services company

iBasis

(IBAS)

sold 6.8 million shares priced at $16 a share and closed up 24 1/4 to 40 1/4 on its first day of trade.

Robertson Stephens

led the underwriting syndicate and

Hambrecht & Quist

and

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

co-managed the deal. Broadband communications company

Next Level Communications

sold 8.5 million shares priced at $20 a share and closed up 30 3/4 to 50 3/4. The underwriters were

Merrill Lynch

,

Credit Suisse First Boston

,

Lehman Brothers

,

Warburg Dillon Read

and

Volpe Brown Whelan & Co.