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Tech Industry

Open season on Net IPOs

Like jets sitting on the tarmac, Internet companies looking to fly an IPO are crowding the runway in the hopes of soaring while the weather is good.

Like jets sitting on the tarmac, Internet companies looking to fly an initial public offering are crowding the runway in the hopes of soaring while the weather is good.

Broadcast.com, which offers live and on-demand programs via the Net, is expected to go public this week, while TeleB@nk, an Internet banking company, is set to hit the public trough next week, said Kathleen Smith, portfolio manager for Renaissance Capital's IPO Fund.

A half-dozen companies--ranging from online community builder GeoCities to e-commerce retailer Cyberian Outpost and Web-hosting services company Hiway Technologies--also are preparing to go public. Some, such as online auction site eBay, are getting closer to filing IPO papers with regulators, sources said.

Some IPOs may be running into delays, however. For example, PointCast was supposed to begin its road show--a traveling promotional presentation by which companies try to attract investors to their IPOs--in San Francisco this week, but has canceled those plans, sources said.

The company now is reviewing strategic partnerships, the sources said. Among other options, the "push" technology provider may try to persuade a media company to acquire a minority stake in the company before it attempts to go public.

Walt Disney recently took a 43 percent stake in Infoseek, and NBC last week closed its deal to acquire a nearly 20 percent stake of CNET: The Computer Network's online portal, Snap. (CNET: The Computer Network is the publisher of NEWS.COM.)

Internet companies remain the best-performing IPOs. Five of the 44 IPOs launched last month had some Internet-related aspect to their business, Renaissance's Smith said.

"There's been poor performance for IPOs in general in May and June, but Internet IPOs have been an oasis," she said.

Driving the success of Internet IPOs has been the recent run-up in Net stocks, the evolution of the Internet--which is creating more companies in that space looking to go public--and the many investments into portal companies by media giants of late, she said.

Net companies are expected to continue to "defy gravity" with their IPOs in the coming weeks, but it may take until August or September for the financial outlooks of other industries to improve, Smith said.