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IPO market cools in slowest week since May

Only four initial public offerings are scheduled for next week--the lightest non-holiday week for IPOs since May 8, when companies pulled their offerings in response to the Nasdaq sell-off.

    This week is a good time for a vacation.

    Only four initial public Tune in to CNET News.com TV's IPO Forecastofferings are scheduled to raise $102 million--the lightest non-holiday week for IPOs since May 8, when companies pulled their offerings in response to the Nasdaq sell-off.

    Two of the companies on the docket, O2Micro and Ista Pharmaceuticals, are holdovers from last week. The other two companies, Lipman Electronic Engineering and ServiceWare Technologies, have lowered the terms of their offerings, which suggests low investor demand.

    IPO watchers say the lull will likely continue until after the Labor Day weekend. The number of IPOs has been relatively light throughout August, with 10 deals this week, 30 last week and 28 the week before.

    Wall Street has not responded well to the onslaught of deals. Of the 60 IPOs that priced this month, 25, or nearly 42 percent, are trading below their first-day close. Fifteen, or 25 percent, are trading below their offer price, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data.

    The average first-day gain this month was 28 percent, less than half the average first-day gain of IPOs priced in July.

    "Perhaps you could argue there's been a glut of deals, especially in the biotech area," said Richard Peterson, chief market strategist with Thomson Financial. "It's just hard to digest that many deals."

    The following companies are expected to debut next week:

    • ServiceWare, which helps companies create searchable databanks accessible by the Internet, email and phone, plans to raise $38.2 million through the sale of 4.5 million shares at a range of $8 to $9. The company reduced its price range from $10.50 to $12.50 on Aug. 9.

    Oakmont, Pa.-based ServiceWare was incorporated in 1991 and has not been profitable for the past five years, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For the six months ended June 30, the company lost $8.5 million on revenues of $14.6 million.

    ServiceWare is expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "SVWC." Bear Stearns is the lead manager of the sale.

    • Lipman Electronic Engineering is scheduled to sell 3 million shares at $10.50 each. The Israeli company was originally scheduled to sell 4.5 million shares at $13 to $15.

    The company, which makes electronic payment systems, is expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "LPMN." Robertson Stephens, Salomon Smith Barney and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray will handle the sale.

    • O2Micro, which makes integrated circuits to extend the battery life of computers, cell phones and other devices, plans to raise $32 million through the sale of 4 million shares at a range of $7 to $9.

    The Cayman Islands-based company initially planned to launch its IPO last week, but it postponed the offering until next week. O2Micro is expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "OIIM." Robertson Stephens will handle the sale.

    • Ista Pharmaceuticals, which develops products for eye conditions, plans to raise $31.5 million through the sale of 3 million shares at $10.50 each. Initially the company planned to raise $63 million but cut the terms of its offering.

    Ista is scheduled to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "ISTA." CIBC World Markets will lead the sale.