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Trio of tech offerings to draw fanfare next week

Riding on the strength of broadband and customer management software sectors, three companies are expected to grab significant attention next week when they hit the market.

Riding on the strength of broadband and customer management software sectors, three companies are expected to grab significant attention next week when they hit the market.

Customer management companies Chordiant Software and Apropos Technology are set to sell shares to the public next week. Additionally, Taiwan-based high-speed Internet access firm GigaMedia is on tap for an IPO.

Chordiant offers call center technology that allows businesses to communicate with customers via telephone, email or over the Net. The company has already raised its price range by 60 percent since filing its IPO in December.

Tune in to CNET News.com TV's IPO Forecast The company hopes to raise up to $72 million, based on the sale of 4.5 million shares at the high end of its $14 to $16 per share price range. Chordiant is scheduled to price Monday and begin trading Tuesday under the ticker "CHRD." Robertson Stephens is the lead underwriter.

The market for customer management software has boomed, as more companies enter the e-commerce fray. Recent deals also have underlined the growing interest in the sector.

"When Kana Communications bought Silknet for $4.2 billion, that set the customer management software sector on fire," said Jeff Hirschkorn, senior analyst with IPO.com. Office Depot and other companies use Silknet's software to interact with customers on requests and orders.

Kana, which announced its deal earlier this week, builds software that manages email for companies doing business online.

Delano Technology, another customer management firm, soared 202 percent on its first day of trading, after pricing at $18 this week.

Chordiant generated $17.6 million in revenues last year, compared with $12.5 million a year earlier. The company's loss grew to $23.2 million from $17.4 million the previous year.

Meanwhile, Apropos is expected to raise up to $48 million, based on the sale of 3.2 million shares at the high end of its $13 to $15 price range. The company expects to price Feb. 16 and will trade the next day under the ticker "APRS." Chase H&Q is the lead underwriter.

"I'm sure this price range will get increased," Hirschkorn said. "They put together an impressive customer base like Pfizer and Seagate." Underwriters often raise the price range for a public offering when there is strong investor demand.

He added that although Apropos operates in the same sector as Chordiant, there is enough difference in their business models to avoid competition for investors' attention.

Apropos generated revenue of $18.2 million last year, up from $9.1 million the previous year. Losses widened to $7.2 million in the period from $5 million a year earlier.

Broadband firms have found a lucrative home on Wall Street, and now international high-speed Net service are beginning to get some attention as well. GigaMedia, based in Taiwan, is expected to have a strong showing next week when it goes public.

Korean-based broadband portal Thrunet, for example, has jumped 238 percent since it debuted last November at $18 a share.

GigaMedia provides Internet service via cable and serves a region that is clamoring for more high-speed data connections, Hirschkorn said.

"Taiwan is one of the hottest places around. IDC predicts Internet users will hit 4.5 million by 2003 from 1 million in 1998," he said.

Microsoft is also an investor in GigaMedia and will hold an 8 percent stake after the offering. The software giant was also an investor in Thrunet.

GigaMedia generated revenues of $588,000 for the nine months ended Sept. 30 compared with $108,000 a year ago. And unlike several other ISPs that are posting growing losses amid expansion, the company cut its losses by nearly half to $12.6 million in the period from $23 million a year ago.

The company hopes to raise up to $132 million, based on the sale of 8.8 million shares at the high end of its $13 to $15 price range. The company expects to price Feb. 17 and begin trading the next day under the ticker "GIGM." Goldman Sachs Asia is the lead underwriter.