Chemdex IPO comes out blazing

Chemdex (Nasdaq: CMDX) shares rose as much as 110 percent in their debut Tuesday.

Shares initially leapt to 31 1/2, more than double their initial offering price of 15. Momentum started to slow after midday, and in afternoon trading, Chemdex's gains were at 84 percent, up 12 1/2 to 27 1/2. The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., sold 7.5 million shares.

Chemdex, which specializes in e-commerce software for the life sciences industry, last week raised its IPO price range to $12 to $14, from $9 to $11. Its initial public offering was underwritten by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, as well as BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. and Discover Brokerage Direct

Chemdex had net loss of $6.8 million, or $3.38 cents a share on revenue of only $165 000 for the three months ended March 31 1999.

Among risks cited in the regulatory filings are the slim sources of revenue. Chemdex's initial enterprise customer, Genentech, Inc., accounted for about 82 percent of revenues in the three months ended March 31, 1999.

Venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Warburg Pincus each own a 12.6 percent stake in the company. Bay City Capital Fund owns 11.5 percent and CMG @Ventures, a subsidiary of CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI), also owns an 11.2 percent stake.