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FairMarket triples in first day of trading

The markets shine on the auction software and network provider, as its shares more than triple in their first day of trading.

The markets were more than fair for auction software and network provider FairMarket today, as its shares nearly tripled in their first day of trading.

After pricing yesterday at $17 per share, FairMarket began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market today at $47. The shares reached a high of $53.50 before trailing off. The stock closed at $48.50, up $31.50, giving it a market valuation of $1.3 billion.

Microsoft, Excite@Home and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, which are members of FairMarket's auction network, own a combined 39 percent of the Woburn, Mass.-based company. The backing of such high-profile Net players has helped boost FairMarket's IPO, said Jeff Hirschkorn, senior analyst at IPO.com.

"That's impressive," Hirschkorn said. "People want to ride that type of wave."

The company competes against auction software companies such as OpenSite, while its network is going head-to-head with Internet giants such as eBay, Yahoo and Amazon.com.

FairMarket lost $16.5 million on $2.1 million in sales last year. In 1998, the company lost $1.4 million on $4,000 in sales.

It raised $79 million yesterday by selling 5 million shares. The company grossed $85 million before expenses.