Quintus jumps 206 percent in debut

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Quintus (Nasdaq: QNTS), a maker of e-commerce customer relationship software, closed up 37, or 206 percent, to 55 in its initial public offering Tuesday. Its shares moved as high as 55 3/8 in late trading.

The stock opened at 43 1/2, more than double its offering price of $18 a share.

Quintus priced its 4 million share offering above the increased range of $15 to 17. Quintus upped its price range from the initial range of $12-14 Friday. Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette is the lead underwriter for the deal. Dain Rauscher and SG Cowen are co-managers.

"Customer management software is a nice space to be in," said Francis Gaskins of the IPO Desktop. He also predicted the company should fare well considering its 74 percent gross margins, and narrow loss of just $1 million for the quarter ended in September.

Indeed, customer management software has paid off for investors. Similar companies such as Kana Communications (Nasdaq: KANA) and SilkNet Software (Nasdaq: SILK) have been impressive since going public (comparison chart).

Quintus had revenue of $22 million for the six months ended September 30, as compared to $15.9 million for the same period in 1998. Net loss for the six months was $1.6 million, as opposed to $4.3 million in the previous year. For the year ending March 31, the company had sales of $30.3 million and a loss of $11.4 million.

Risks cited in the company's filings with the SEC include its dependence on Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), which accounted for 28.3 percent of Quintus' total revenue for the six months ending Sept. 30. Lucent resells Brightware's software for email management with the Quintus eContact suite.

Quintus faces stiff competition in the rapidly evolving e-customer relations market. It competes with customer relationship management software vendors such as Siebel Systems (Nasdaq: SEBL) and Clarify (Nasdaq: CLFY), emerging Internet customer interaction software vendors such as Kana and WebLine Communications, and computer telephony software vendors such as Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories.

Three of the competitors cited by Quintus in regulatory filings have been acquired in recent months. Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT) bought Quintus competitor Clarify , Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) acquired WebLine Communications and PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT) bought Vantive.