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Xoom.com shares skyrocket after IPO

Shares in the direct marketing community site go public and spike nearly 200 percent during the company's first day of trade.

    Shares of Xoom.com spiked 200 percent higher before settling some after the direct marketing community site went public today.

    The stock, which priced on the high end of its range at 14 per share, opened at 31 per share and never traded lower, peaking as high as 42. Shares closed more than 145 percent higher at 34.4375, with the Internet company's market capitalization standing at more than $416 million.

    Xoom.com increased its price range Monday to between 12 and 14 per share from a range of between 9 and 11 per share. Underwriters also increased the company's float to 4 million shares from 3 million shares.

    The initial public offering netted $56 million before fees for the company, which said it intends to use the capital generated for potential acquisitions and promotional campaigns.

    The offering, which trades on the Nasdaq Composite Index under the ticker symbol "XMCM," is being managed by Bear Stearns and Deutsche Bank.

    More than 16 million Xoom shares changed hands today, making it the most active stock and the biggest percentage gainer on the Nasdaq.

    "Their main competitors are TheGlobe.com and GeoCities, which are two recent IPOs that did really well, so it's not surprising [that Xoom.com is up]," said Jennifer McBrien, an analyst at Renaissance Capital.

    Although similar to other community sites, Xoom adds a direct marketing twist by requiring users to agree to receive periodic offers when they register. That caveat allows Xoom to offer targeted marketing opportunities to retailers and advertisers. Not coincidentally, e-commerce income accounts for 69 percent of the company's revenue, McBrien said.

    Xoom's offering, one of a handful of recent Internet IPOs, could signal a return to IPO mania in the sector.

    Last week, uBid and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch went public with a flurry of interest and booming stock prices.

    Despite 1998, with a few exceptions, being a weak year for public offerings, and although the holiday season is traditionally a slow period for non-retail business, some analysts expect Internet IPOs to flourish again next year.

    "I think by late January, definitely early February, we'll see some of those other Internet companies that maybe filed in August but pulled back, I think we'll see them go public," McBrien said.

    Continuing a trend among Internet offerings, Xoom recently changed its name from Xoom Inc. to Xoom.com in order to capitalize on retail investors' infatuation with all things Internet. McBrien also said the name change may have been aimed at staving off a potential conflict with Zoom Telephonics.

    But, she added: "You tack on a .com on and the average Joe on the street who may be thinking about getting into the market will know that's an Internet company, and Internet companies are hot."