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Inforte jumps 153 percent

Inforte Corp. (Nasdaq: INFT) rose 49 1/16 to 81 1/16, or 153 percent, in its market debut Friday.

The company flexed its market muscle by pricing 2 million shares at $32 each, the top of its upwardly revised range. Inforte, which is not only in a hot e-business sector, but also turns a profit, is sure to make a strong market debut. Its estimated pricing was raised to $30-$32 per share from $23-$25 a share.

Goldman, Sachs & Co. is the lead underwriter for the offering which should now net about $56.2 million for the company. After the offering, there will be about 11.7 million shares outstanding, putting Inforte's initial market capitalization at about $362.7 million.

Heavy demand for experts who can integrate Internet technology into businesses, technology consulting firm make Inforte Corp.'s initial public offering a sure-fire success.

"It's utilizing the new add-on buzzword, 'integration,' said David Menlow of IPOfinancial.com. He said the company has a pedigree client list, which includes Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MTC), Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), and Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), but wonders if the company can continue its hockey-stick growth curve.

In just the last three years, the company's revenue has increased increased from $5.1 million in 1997, to $13.4 million in 1998, to $30.1 million in 1999.

The company actually turns a profit, too. For the year ended Dec 31 the company had net income of $2.3 million on revenue of $30.1 million, compared to a net income of $ 777 000 on revenue of $13.5 million in 1998.

Inforte's competitors include Agency.com (Nasdaq: ACOM), iXL (Nasdaq: IIXL), Proxicom (Nasdaq: PXCM), Razorfish (Nasdaq: RAZF), Scient Corp. (Nasdaq: SCNT), and USWeb/CKS Corp. (Nasdaq: USWB), as well as larger, more traditional companies like Andersen Consulting.

Another competitor, Organic Inc.'s (Nasdaq: OGNC), is now at 29 9/16, after making its debut at $20 a share in an IPO earlier this month.

Another IPO to watch today will be GigaMedia (Nasdaq: GIGM), a provider of broadband Internet access via cable in Taiwan. The company will also go public Thursday with 8.8 million shares priced at $27 each, far above their range of $13 to $15 a share.

Goldman Sachs is the lead underwriter for the offering, and Deutsche Banc Alex Brown is a co-manager.