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THE DAY AHEAD: Bamboo.com, ImageX.com prep IP-O-No&#039s

The IPO market is about to take a much-needed vacation for a few weeks but two companies -- ImageX.com and Bamboo.com -- just can't take the hint. Both will try to grab Wall Street's attention and probably fail miserably.

The subliminal message behind these two IPOs is this: Both companies lowered price ranges and can barely get out the door, but are going out anyway because they won't have a chance in September either. Some companies shouldn't go public. The good news is that investors may these two figured out. Oh well, at least the underwriters will make some money.



Bamboo and ImageX: Stand a chance?



To see where these two so-called .coms are heading take a gander at the recent history. Bamboo.com (Nasdaq: BAMB), an online provider of virtual real estate tours, was originally expected priced at $10 to $12 a share. The company cut its expected price to $8 before putting off its IPO. Now it's offering 4 million shares priced $7. Why go now? If Bamboo waited another few days, it may have priced at $4.

ImageX.com (Nasdaq: IMGX), a commercial printing company that happens to take orders online, originally planned to offer 4 million shares at $12 to $14, but cut the offering to 3 million shares priced at $7.

For Bamboo, Prudential Securities is the lead underwriter with an assist from Volpe Whelan and Brown. The two firms swap roles for ImageX.

ImageX stakes its claim to the growth of business-to-business e-commerce by taking orders online for traditional printed business materials and shipping them to customers. Think of ImageX as an online way to play the dead tree business.

Including results from recent acquisitions, ImageX reported revenue of $5.8 million and a loss of $5.7 million for the six months ending June 30. Those results are standard for .coms, but ImageX doesn't exactly fit the Internet company mold. The company cites competition from local printers and their long-standing customer relationships, says it plans on acquiring brick-mortar-paper commercial publishers, and is hostage to the fluctuations of paper prices. Has a .com ever cited paper prices as a risk factor before?

Put simply, ImageX is a plain old publisher in a world where paper isn't exactly a growth business. Maybe someone should take away that .com. Aside from the inherent shakiness of this deal, ImageX drops this bomb. "We expect that we will need to raise additional capital in the future, perhaps in the next 12 months," the company said in regulatory filings.

Bamboo isn't much better. In fact Bamboo could be worse.

Virtual real estate tours sound pretty cool -- until you actually try it. Bamboo's tours are the equivalent of a guy standing in a home with a video camera and doing 360s. We tried a tour and got dizzy. Try this one and click on the virtual tour.

Bamboo's business is nothing more than eye candy. There's no real barrier to entry to compete with Bamboo and the service may not catch on.

Bamboo, known as Jutvision Corp. until April, goes to homes, takes video of the house and provides it to realtors so they can post it on the Web or email it to clients. The company has partnerships with all the big real estate sites such as Realtor.com, HomeSeekers.com, Homes.com and Microsoft HomeAdvisor. The partnerships are exclusive, but don't provide Bamboo with any meaningful revenue.

It shows. Bamboo had sales of $536,074 and a loss of $15.9 million for the six months ending June 30. In 1998, Bamboo had sales of $77,410.