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Tech Industry

Wit Capital gaining credibility, market value

    Shares of Wit Capital Group Inc. (Nasdaq: WITC) shot up another 2 9/16, or 14 percent, to 21 1/8 Monday as the online investment firm continues to benefit from a flood of Internet initial public offerings and growing credibility on Wall Street.

    The so-called e-manager underwrote 48,000 shares of Juniper Networks Inc.'s (Nasdaq: JNPR) white-hot IPO Friday. Juniper shares opened at 34 and closed up more than 200 percent to 98 7/8.

    By offering investors an opportunity to cash in on Internet IPOs and secondary offerings online, Wit Capital is taking Internet investing into a whole new genre. In fact, many established brokerage firms are now offering their clients access to IPOs through their online accounts.

    As an underwriter, Wit Capital earns a 7 percent fee for its services. What was once the domain of the lofty, smoke-glassed brokerage icons has now trickled down to this up-and-coming online firm.

    Wit also served as an underwriter in the recent IPOs of Stamps.com Inc. (Nasdaq: STMPS) and U.S. Search.com Inc. (Nasdaq: SRCH). Neither of those stocks has seen even a fraction of the success that Juniper Networks enjoyed, but Wit still receives its commission and even more recognition in the chaotic Internet investment world.

    So far this year, Wit has e-distributed 41 IPOs and secondaries, according to CommScan Equidesk, an IPO tracking firm. Of that amount, 29 are Internet-related.

    It also e-managed the IPOS of VerticalNet Inc. (Nasdaq: VERT), Barnesandnoble.com Inc. (Nasdaq: BNBN) and StarMedia Network Inc. (Nasdaq: STRM), Latin America's leading online service provider.

    Wit Capital's just a baby itself.

    After its initial public offering June 4, the stock surged to a high of 20 before pulling back to 9 just a few weeks ago. But the success of the Juniper Networks IPO and the fact that it will have its paws on more than a dozen Internet IPOs in the next year.

    Wit Capital shares will likely get another jolt later this week when its 25-day quiet period expires. As is all too common in the IPO game, lead underwriter Bear Stearns as well as any other co-managers will likely start coverage of the stock with a favorable recommendation.

    At the end of April, Wit Capital had more than 41,000 customer accounts.

    Reuters contributed to this report.