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If the first three IPOs of 2009 are any indication, it's only a matter of time before the pipeline of fresh stock offerings begins to really flow.
Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI ) became this year's third stateside IPO on Wednesday. It joins the applause-worthy debuts of infant formula giant Mead Johnson (NYSE: MJN ) in February and Chinese online gaming specialist Changyou.com (Nasdaq: CYOU ) earlier this month.
Underwriters priced the Bridgepoint Education offering at $10.50 a share. The stock opened at that price, closing the trading day at $11.10. All three of this year's debutantes so far are trading higher than their IPO prices, though Bridgepoint did price below its original expectations.
Bridgepoint offers postsecondary degree programs through the online and offline arms of Ashford University and University of the Rockies. It's a noteworthy bookend to the final IPO of 2008, fellow for-profit educator Grand Canyon Education (Nasdaq: LOPE ) . That, too, priced at the low end of its initial range, but has gone on to reward its first public investors.
Bridgepoint's time as the most recent IPO didn't last long. In today's trading, language education software company Rosetta Stone (NYSE: RST ) came roaring out the gate, trading at 42% more than its initial offering price.
Clearly, the floodgates are starting to swing open. There have been several intriguing companies that have announced their intention to go public:
- Restaurant reservations provider OpenTable is chomping at the bit.
- FriendFinder, the parent company of fling enabler AdultFriendFinder, is hoping for a Wall Street hookup.
- Even eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) will get in on the fun, when it takes Skype public next year.
Companies will still have to earn the right to get an IPO. Though 98% of its enrollment consists of Web-based students, Bridgepoint isn't just another dot-com educator, because its revenue for 2008 soared 154% to $218.3 million. Net income grew even more, clocking in at $24.4 million. Yes, that's the double-digit net margins that growth investors like to see, especially in a company that is still early in its growth cycle.
So let the IPOs keep rolling, as long as they are ready for prime time.
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