January IPO Slate Looks Heavier Than Usual

No infrastructure plays yet, but plenty of big names and dot-com plans.
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IPOs are taking a short vacation, but they'll be back in full swing after New Year's.

It'll be a light load until the middle of January, but December proved busy for a traditionally slow time for IPOs. This month, 41 deals have been priced, up from 22 last year, according to

Thomson Financial Securities Data

. And even though the IPO market doesn't generally heat up again until March, there are already 100 deals slated to go public in the first few months of 2000, compared with 68 deals filed at the same time a year ago.

With $70 billion raised in the IPO market for 1999 and deals up an average of 183% as of Thursday, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data, investors will be looking forward to continued good cheer in 2000.

The Bad News First

Alas, those growth investors hunting for the next hot Net infrastructure stock will have to wait. While there are a number of dot-com offerings lined up, the infrastructure plays, which have been among the leaders in the

Nasdaq's

incredible 80% rally this year, have yet to make it onto the calendar.

There aren't any specific infrastructure companies on investors' radar screens, says IPO analyst Tom Taulli of

internet.com

. But not to worry, the analyst continues: "There's going to be a lot of segmentation" in the telecom-infrastructure sector, so more of these IPOs will hit the slate eventually.

Meanwhile, those awaiting the next

Foundry Networks

(FDRY)

, up some 1,200% since its September IPO, or

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

, which went public in June at 35 and closed Thursday well above 300, will need to keep an eye out.

Casting a Wide Net

Don't despair, though: Some strong offerings are already on the calendar. Online retailer

Buy.com

, a $168 million

Merrill Lynch

deal, will hit the market in January.

Credit Suisse First Boston

, one of the top investment banks for IPOs in 1999, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data, will underwrite offerings by

724 Solutions

, a Canadian company that enables banks to offer online banking and financial services on mobile phones and personal digital assistants, and

SkillSoft

, a Nashua, N.H.-based seller of training software.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

will bring public two Internet companies that have been generating a lot of buzz: online grocer

HomeGrocer.com

and

CMGI

(CMGI)

-controlled portal

AltaVista

.

TheStreet.com

covered these two filings in a

story on Dec. 18.

Early next year will also see a series of college and teen-related Web sites, new entrants to a sector that has yet to impress investors. New York-based teen portal

Bolt

, which just filed to go public, will be underwritten by Morgan Stanley, and will compete with teen sites

Alloy Online

(ALOY)

and

iTurf

(TURF)

, both of which went public in 1999 and haven't fared well since then. Alloy Online has barely budged from its May 13 offer price of 15, and iTurf has been underwater since its April offering at 22, trading recently in the midteens.

Online college-textbook-retailer

VarsityBooks.com

, a

Robertson Stephens

deal, and Internet college resource

Embark.com

, a Credit Suisse First Boston deal, are also in line to go public in late January or early February. Also highly anticipated is

Snowball.com

, a portal that focuses on the 12-29 age group and is one of the largest private companies ranked on

Media Metrix's

list of Web properties. It filed Thursday for an $86.3 million deal underwritten by

Goldman Sachs

.

Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Next year won't just be about dot-coms, though.

John Hancock

, a $2 billion deal underwritten by

Morgan Stanley

, is on the docket for the first quarter, as is

MetLife

. Doughnut king

Krispy Kreme

, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., is slated to hit the public markets at the end of first quarter. And we can't forget

Palm

, the subsidiary of

3Com

(COMS)

that hopes to raise $100 million when it goes public with the backing of Goldman Sachs, most likely in February.

Until then, enjoy the IPO vacation. It's going to be a busy year.