MP3.com, other Net firms create market buzz

Internet companies again lead next week's schedule of initial stock sales, just as the market for Net-related stocks rebounds.

NEW YORK--Internet companies again lead next week's schedule of initial stock sales.

San Diego-based MP3.com, which allows artists to promote and distribute music over the Internet, plans to sell 12.3 million shares at $16 to $18 each, raising $209.1 million.

Redwood City, California-based InsWeb, an online insurance marketplace, plans to sell 4 million shares at $11 to $13 each, raising $48 million.

Boston-based Art Technology Group, which sells software that lets online companies personalize ads or promotions, plans to sell 5 million shares at $10 to $12 each, raising $55 million.

Internet stocks have rebounded since a low several weeks ago. Bloomberg's U.S. Internet Index has risen about 36 percent since mid-June. Some recent initial stock sales have surged following first-day performances that were tepid by Internet standards.

Santa Monica, California-based Stamps.com, which is testing an Internet-based stamp-printing service, had quadrupled as of yesterday's close from its June 24 offer price, even though it rose just 24 percent in its first day of trading.

The run-up in small-cap stocks over the last several months may help broaden the IPO market beyond its focus on Internet IPOs. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks has risen 17 percent since March 31.

"Until recently, we've seen only Internet-related IPOs," said Jim Oberweis Jr., a portfolio manager at Oberweis Asset Management in North Aurora, Illinois, with more than $200 million under management. "While I'm not sure that a rally in small-cap stocks would in the short-term change the IPO market, it might allow bankers to bring a wider array of non-Internet companies public."

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