Two initial public offerings scheduled for this week will mark the busiest period for the IPO market since August, a hint that institutional investors may be ready to take risks on new public companies.

Bridgepoint Education, a San Diego-based provider of online and classroom education services, is set to price its $216 million IPO later Tuesday and to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday under the ticker symbol BPI. The stock is expected to price between $14 and $16 a share.

Meanwhile, Arlington, Va.-based language-software maker Rosetta Stone is set to price shares between $15 and $17 for its $106 million IPO. Analysts expect the offering to price on April 16, with shares trading under the ticker RST the following day.

What's especially notable about both IPOs is the small number of shares being offered. Bridgepoint said in a regulatory filing it plans to sell 13.5 million shares, while Rosetta is set to sell 6.25 million shares. Rosetta said it plans to sell 3.125 million shares with the IPO, while the same number of shares will be sold by existing stockholders.

All that remains to be seen is if both Rosetta Stone and Bridgepoint can garner the same amount of investor interest as the only two other IPOs priced in 2009. Institutional investors, which comprise the bulk of IPO buyers, must be willing to take the risk in order for an IPO to be successful.

Chinese video game maker Changyou.com Limited ( CYOU) priced its IPO on April 1 at $16 a share, and the limited amount of shares offered (7.5 million) attracted a lot of attention from investors. The stock is now at $27 a share, good for nearly a 70% increase, according to Renaissance Capital, which operates the Web site IPOHome.com.

As both Rosetta and Bridgepoint have a small lot of shares ready to price, the hope is that demand will remain elevated.

From a broader perspective, April marks the first month since August where more than one company has gone public in the U.S. For investors looking for a strong return out of the Rosetta and Bridgepoint IPOs, it's encouraging that the only two companies to go public in the stretch between August and March have performed well.

Mead Johnson Nutrition ( MJN), the Evansville, Ind.-based baby-formula maker, saw a first-day return of 10.1% after it priced its IPO at $24 a share on Feb. 10. Currently, the stock has a return of 10.3%.

Mead Johnson was the only IPO in the first quarter of 2009 and the first since Bridgepoint rival Grand Canyon Education ( LOPE) priced its IPO in November. Grand Canyon's IPO priced at $12 and has seen a return of 24.4%.

The trading environment wasn't as kind to other IPOs that debuted in 2008. Several companies currently have a negative return since their pricing, including Verso Paper ( VRS), Real Goods Solar ( RSOL), Safe Bulkers ( SB), Rackspace Holding ( RAX) and Intrepid Potash ( IPI).

However, three IPOs in April may not make a lasting trend. In the last two weeks, Current Media, a San Francisco-based Internet and cable television company, optical materials manufacturer Fabrinet, and Alpharetta, Ga.-based biopharmaceutical shop Alimera Sciences have all canceled plans for IPOs, according to IPOHome.com.

Looking ahead, there don't appear to be any other IPOs on deck, either. While several companies have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, none have given any pricing details, leaving the calendar empty for the foreseeable future.

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