Brand-Name IPOs Overshadow Unknowns

NEW YORK (TheStreet --Initial public offerings have brought a new enthusiasm to the equity markets this week. Companies with brand-name recognition continue to resonate with the market, while other, less well-known companies seem to falter after the hoopla dies down.

Despite BATS very public IPO failure, 36 companies have launched successfully in the first quarter. Investors, though, have learned to jump in quickly. Many of these successful IPOs closed much higher than their offering prices, only to exhaust those early gains.

Yelp! ( YELP) was one of the companies which benefited from consumer recognition. It was priced at $15 earlier this month and closed on its first trading day at $24.58. It's now trading at roughly $28. Zynga ( ZNGA), another fan favorite, priced its stock at $10 late last year, but dropped 5% the first day. It then climbed to a high of $12.56, only to pull back to $12.30. These trading patterns are teaching traders to get in early for these consumer-friendly names.

The IPO love, however, hasn't carried over to the energy offerings. Solar company Enphase ( ENPH) priced at $6, way below its planned range of $10 to $12 although it increased the amount of shares it offered, while natural gas shipper GasLog ( GLOG) priced at $14, also below its planned range of $16 to $18.

Annie's Pasta ( BNNY) started out as a small deal looking to raise $70 million and offered 5 million shares at a range of $14 to $16. But as the buzz got louder, Annie's increased the size of the deal to $85 million and lifted the price range to $16 to $18.

The shares ended up being priced at $19 and the stock jumped to $30 on its first day of trading. That's the best first-day stock event since LinkedIn turned in a return of 109% on its first day.

Annie's is a relatively new company, founded in 1989, and it has built up to $135 million in sales by 2011. Annie's is right on target with the consumer desire for healthy products.

Vocera Communications ( VCRA) piggy-backed on Annie's good fortune by also popping 31% on its first day of trading.

Vocera also increased its offering at the last minute. It had planned to offer 5.75 million shares at $12 to $14 with the intent to raise $74.8 million. However, it ended up offering 5.85 million shares at $16 making the deal 25% bigger than planned.

Shares are trading close to $24 on Friday.

Vocera is a communication company that focuses on the hospital sector with a small wireless product that enables workers like nurses to talk to each other. The product is replacing landlines and hardwired telephones and giving these workers a quick way to exchange information. Vocera also is beginning to enter into the hospitality sector at high-end hotels.

Millennial Media ( MM) had originally planned on raising $102 million and pricing its shares between $9 and $11. Interest began to build in the deal and the company revised the range to between $11 and $13. Millennial ended up raising $133 million by offering $10.2 million shares at $13 each.

The stock popped and ended the first day of trading at $25.

Millennial Media is the second largest mobile advertising, trailing Google ( GOOG) but ahead of Apple ( AAPL). As investors focus on the upcoming Facebook IPO, many realize how critical mobile advertising is to the growth of these social networking giants.

CafePress ( PRSS) looked to be off to a strong start. It had all the right ingredients for a successful offering. It was Internet-based and was successful with net revenue growing 37% in 2011 . It also had brand-name recognition. The original price range was between $16 and $18, but it ended up going out higher at $19. It seems the market believed $19 was a fair price as the stock hasn't moved much beyond that original price.

Rexnord ( RXN) was the largest of the offerings for the week and was neither Internet-related nor consumer brand name friendly. The big industrial company had hoped to raise $450 million, but came away with $426 million instead. It priced at the low end of its range as the shares were introduced at $18.

There has been strong institutional demand for large industrial companies as evidenced by the successful launch by Allison Transmissions ( ALSN). Allison is up 1.7% since the company went public in mid-March. Rexnord also has had a good first few days as a public company as the stock is already trading over $20 a share, a return of 8% in two days.

--Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Debra Borchardt.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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