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IPO investors to find slim pickings next week

McAfee is among just a few tech companies on the schedule to begin public trading during the post-Thanksgiving lull.

IPO investors will find only a little meat on the bone when post-Thanksgiving new issues roll out next week., a maker of popular anti-virus software, is scheduled to debut next week, along with Internet company and digital anti-theft company Digimarc.

McAfee, currently a subsidiary of Network Associates, plans to raise up to $50 million, based on the high-end of its $6 to $8 pricing range and 6.25 million shares that will be sold.

One analyst, however, expects the pricing range and number of shares being offered to increase.

"McAfee has great name recognition and it's a Morgan Stanley deal. They have a penchant toward underpricing deals," said Jeff Hirschkorn, an analyst with

The company plans to trade under the ticker "MCAF." McAfee's products allow consumers to secure, repair, update and upgrade their PCs via the company's Web site.

McAfee's revenues grew to $16 million during the nine-month period ending September 30, up from $4.3 million a year ago. But its net loss swelled to $21.8 million for the period from a loss of $823,000 the prior year.

"A lot of companies are in this security business, but Internet customers are increasing so business will increase," Hirschkorn said. International Data Corporation "says the Internet security market will reach $1.3 trillion by 2003."

After the offering, Network Associates will hold an 85 percent stake in the company, but have 95 percent of the voting power.

Another IPO scheduled for next week also has a strong tie to the Net. advises clients on online business model strategies, marketing campaigns and e-commerce opportunities--a field that has produced other strong IPOs, Hirschkorn said.

iXL Enterprises, for example, priced its IPO shares at $12 last June. The stock produced an acceptable 49 percent return on its first day but today is up nearly three-fold from that point.

Agency also is connected to large shareholder Omnicom, which will hold a 46.6 percent stake in the company after the IPO.

Agency raised $74.8 million in pro forma revenues during the nine-month period ending September 30, up 34 percent from a year ago. The company's loss, however, widened to $16.7 million for the period from $14.1 million the previous year. Its clients include Compaq, Sprint and British Airways.

Agency hopes to raise up to $70.8 million. The company, which is being underwritten by Goldman Sachs, has a pricing range of $10 to $12 and plans to offer 5.9 million shares. The shares are expected to price next Thursday and begin trading Friday under the ticker "ACOM."

Digimarc, a developer of digital watermarks to prevent counterfeiting and copyright infringements, plans to raise up to $45 million--based on the high end of its recently raised $13 to $15 range and the 3 million shares that will be sold.

The company plans to price Wednesday and begin trading Thursday under the ticker DMRC.

Digimarc posted a loss of $824,000 on $4.2 million in revenues during the nine months ended September 30, compared with a loss of $2.3 million on $691,000 in revenues a year ago. About 92 percent of its revenues during the first nine months this year came from a consortium of central banks.

Hirschkorn, however, noted that deal is also attractive for its relationship with Adobe, which includes Digimarc in its software.