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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Net IPOs end year with a whimper

Initial public offerings will be as scarce as empty parking spaces at the mall next week, as only a few companies are slated to debut in the days before Christmas.

Initial public offerings will be as scarce as empty parking spaces at the mall next week, as only a few companies are slated to debut in the days before Christmas.

B2bstores.com, which sells office supplies and products online, was the only Internet company included in a short list of just three initial public offerings scheduled for next week. However, the underwriters said today that the IPO is not expected to take place until mid-January.

"After today, IPOs will virtually close up shop for the month," said Jeff Hirschkorn, a senior analyst with IPO.com.

While the year is ending with a whimper, the early part of the month was extraordinarily busy.

Thirty-nine deals, which raised $4.4 billion, hit the market this month, up from 22 deals that raised $3.2 billion last year, said Richard Peterson, an IPO analyst with Thomson Financial Securities Data.

FreeMarkets was one company that contributed to the boom in December, raising $172.8 million in its IPO. FreeMarkets, which conducts online auctions, is in the popular sector of business-to-business online commerce.

One of the more notable deals during the month was VA Linux, which gained 698 percent on its first day of trading to set a new record for the largest one-day gain of any IPO.

VA Linux, which sells servers that run the Linux operating system, was one of two Linux-related companies to debut this month.

Shares in Andover.Net, which operates Web sites with Linux programming information and news, more than tripled during its market debut.

"Last year, we had the 'dot com' craze," said Hirschkorn. "This year, we're getting into more diversified tech deals."