Roughly 200 to 250 companies are expected to go public in the new year, in line with historical norms. In 2004, about 210 companies will have gone public.

"We're very enthusiastic for the IPO market in 2005," said Bard. "The backlog is double where it was when we entered 2004."

Of course, that doesn't mean companies like Shanda, eCost, 51Jobs and Cogent will continue to thrive in the year ahead. "Anytime a stock rises dramatically," Bard cautioned, "you always run the risk of a pullback."

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