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Avici, Corvis rocket in IPOs

Two East Coast networking start-ups burst onto Wall Street with strong initial public offerings.

    Networking companies Avici Systems and Corvis burst onto Wall Street today with strong initial public offerings.

    Stock in Avici, which was priced last night at $31, shot up to $94.50 shortly after trading began today. Shares of the North Billerica, Mass.-based company today traded as high as $102 before slipping to close at $96.75--a 212 percent gain for the day.

    The company was the day's largest gainer on the Nasdaq, based on percentage increase.

    Corvis stock, which was priced last night at $36, jumped to $98 after trading began today. Shares of Columbia, Md.-based Corvis settled down to close at $84.72--a 135 percent gain for the day.

    Avici intends to compete with Juniper Networks and Cisco Systems for a piece of the lucrative high-end Internet routing market. Corvis hopes to ride a wave of interest in various optical technologies, competing for business from network operators against the likes of Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, and Ciena, along with smaller specialists such as Sycamore Networks.

    High-end networking companies have been among the hottest IPOs over the past year, in what has been an otherwise tepid market for new issues. As hype about online retailing and other Internet companies has waned, networking companies have done well amid spectacular growth in networking and communications services.

    A terabit routing company, Avici Systems makes the high-end equipment that switches and redirects Internet information and data at blazing speeds. Williams Communications and Enron Broadband Services are among the largest customers testing Avici's equipment.

    Avici raised more than $200 million last night when it sold about 7 million shares at $31 each, higher than the initial range of $28 to $30 apiece.

    Corvis, a long-haul optical equipment company, makes so-called dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) gear that maximizes the capacity of fiber-optic networks. By sending data as different colored pulses of light using DWDM technology, network operators are able to increase the capacity of their networks.

    Corvis raised more than $1.1 billion last night when it sold 31.6 million shares at $36 each, well above its anticipated range of $28 to $30.

    Started by former Ciena founder David Huber, Corvis is currently embroiled in a recently filed patent infringement suit with Huber's former company. Because of its pre-IPO quiet period, Corvis has thus far been silent on Ciena's legal action against it.

    Amid the scramble see story: Cashing in on fiber opticsto develop new products and raise capital for further research and development, many optical gear makers have gone public with few customers and little or no revenue.

    For example, Corvis currently claims no revenue and only three customers. Last quarter, Avici generated $504,000 in revenue, but incurred huge losses and also has few customers.