Audible more than doubles on trading debut

The company, which delivers audio versions of books and newspapers over the Internet, jumps 12 to 21 in its first day of trading.

WAYNE, New Jersey--Audible, which delivers audio versions of books and newspapers over the Internet, more than doubled in its first day of trading following an initial stock sale.

Audible rose 12 points, or 133.33 percent, to 21 as about 11.4 million shares changed hands in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The company closed with a market value of $525.1 million.

"There's a huge demand because audio is one of the most popular pieces of content [on the Internet]," said Nathan Schulhof, chief executive of competitor Audiohighway.com.

The number of users at Audiohighway's Web site has grown from less than 200,000 in December to millions, he said.

"The Internet has matured to a point where two things have happened: one, the installed base has grown to where it can support the price of high-quality content, and two, the ease of use has come with [better] browsers and software."

That maturation has increased demand for the audio content provided by companies such Audible and Cupertino, California-based Audiohighway, he said.

Audible yesterday sold 4 million shares at $9 each, raising $36 million. The sale represented a 16 percent stake.

Audible lost $1.5 million on revenue of $315,000 for the three months ended March 31. The company said it expects to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future.

The company's collection of audio books includes John Grisham's The Testament, Stephen King's Bag of Bones, Scott Adams's The Dilbert Principle, and Michael Dell's Direct from Dell.

Audible trades under the symbol "ADBL." Credit Suisse First Boston managed the sale of its shares, with assistance from J.P Morgan, Volpe Brown Whelan, and Wit Capital.

Copyright 1999, Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

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