3Par Sparkles in Debut

The newly public storage firm trades above its IPO price.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Investors eagerly bid up shares of data storage device maker

3Par

(PAR) - Get Report

in its first day of trading, underscoring their continuing interest in the evolving market for data storage products.

The company's shares were priced at $14 in their initial public offering on Friday, above the range of $11 to $13 previously expected, according to the company's

Securities and Exchange Commission

filings.

Shares were recently trading at $15.93.

3Par's customers include the Federal Bureau of Investigation,

Priceline.com

(PCLN)

and

News Corp.'s

(NWS) - Get Report

social networking Web site MySpace.com. In the fist six months of the year, the eight-year-old company's revenue jumped 39% over the same period a year earlier. 3Par, however, continues to report operating losses.

Storage companies have been a favorite of investors this year as sales of devices and components such as hard disk drives continue to grow at double-digit paces. Industry heavyweight

EMC

(EMC)

, which over the summer upgraded nearly all of its major product lines, has seen its shares rise over 50% this year. Shares of

Data Domain

(DDUP)

, a maker of products for data backup and recovery, have risen nearly 9.5% since their debut in June.

The industry has benefited from the increasing amount of digital photos, documents and other data-intensive files shared between businesses or posted on social networking sites such as MySpace.

This related need for storage has sparked a flurry of deals in the sector. In addition to the recent IPOs, PC-maker

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

announced plans last week to acquire the storage device manufacturer EqualLogic in order to build an in-house line of products rather than continuing to resell those of the industry's heavyweight, EMC.

A host of smaller companies, such as privately held

LeftHand Networks

and

Isilon

(ISLN)

, are waiting in the wings to grab a piece of this market -- and analysts' attention. In a recent conference call, analysts pinged EMC executives with questions about how they would be able to compete with the rash of upstarts in this business bringing new technology to market.

Gains among the storage heavyweights have been uneven, however. Shares of

Network Appliance

(NTAP) - Get Report

, a large storage appliance vendor, have fallen 34% because the company has struggled to close major deals with customers in the U.S.