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Wall Street welcomes new round of IPOs

VerticalNet, Prodigy, and Healtheon make their public stock debut, but without the enormous valuations of previous IPOs.

VerticalNet, Prodigy, and Healtheon were welcomed by Wall Street at their public debut today, but without the enormous valuations of last quarter's IPO stars such as eBay.

VerticalNet, which runs business-to-business Web sites, more than tripled in its first day of trading under the ticker symbol "VERT."

The Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company's shares opened at 41 and rose as high as 55.4375 as 6.5 million shares changed hands on Nasdaq. In mid-afternoon trading, the shares stood at 52.0625.

VerticalNet sold 3.5 million shares at 16 each. That was 2 points above the top of the expected range set by lead underwriter Lehman Brothers. The price range was raised to 12 to 14 from 8 to 10 two days before the sale.

Investors also grabbed shares of Prodigy Communications, an early online service provider that didn't live up to expectations. Shares of the White Plains, New York-based company, trading under the ticker symbol "PRGY," were priced at 15 but opened at 20. They were trading at 20.1875 as more than 20 million shares changed hands in mid-afternoon trading.

Prodigy raised $120 million with its sale of 8 million shares.

After a belated start, shares of Healtheon, the start-up backed by Netscape cofounder Jim Clark, began Nasdaq trading at about 12:45 p.m. ET. The share price, which was raised by the offering's underwriters yesterday, was set at 8 and quadrupled right out of the gate. The shares opened at 21.875, rose to 33.75, and were trading at 27.8125 by mid-afternoon.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.