Just like opening day at the ballpark, investing in new IPOs holds the potential for shining promise and crushing disappointment. If you simply can't bear to just cheer on your favorites from the sidelines, at least be careful about investing in this league. Many new issues swing for the fences during their first trading days, only to slump once marketing hype has given way to mundane earnings reports.

Don't commit an error by stocking your entire portfolio with rookies. Allocate just a small percentage of your risk capital to IPOs. Scout your potential phenoms carefully, and be choosy about composing your own rotisserie league. Investing with an eye for a season extending long beyond opening day will reward you with quality players capable of staying in the game. With that in mind, we offer our Foolish scouting report of the latest IPOs.

Last week's games
Several games were played last week, with three scoring impressive wins. The players are ranked below, according to their returns from their offering price to the close of their first trading day.

First place: Acme Packet

  • Ticker: Nasdaq: APKT
  • Industry: Telecom-network session border-control provider
  • Deal terms: 11.5 million shares, $9.50 per share
  • Lead managers: Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, and ThinkEquity Partners
  • Filed: June 2
  • Opening day: Oct. 13, opened at $14, closed at $15.91, 67.5% gain
  • Bleacher banter: Priced above its originally projected range of $6.50-$7.50; the second-highest first-day gain since Chipotle's (NYSE:CMG) debut

Second place: eHealth

  • Ticker: Nasdaq: EHTH
  • Industry: Online health insurance provider
  • Deal terms: Five million shares, $14 per share
  • Lead managers: Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch
  • Filed: April 25
  • Opening day: Oct. 13, opened at $25, closed at $22.90, 63.6% gain
  • Bleacher banter: Priced above its originally projected range of $10-$12; the third-highest first-day gain since Chipotle's debut

Third place: Science Applications International (SAIC)

  • Ticker: NYSE: SAI
  • Industry: Technical consultant
  • Deal terms: 75 million shares, $15 per share
  • Lead managers: Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns
  • Filed: Sept. 1, 2005
  • Opening day: Oct. 13, opened at $17, closed at $18.18, 21.2% gain
  • Bleacher banter: Priced at high end of its range; heavy trading volume; deal ranks as second-richest this year, with more than $1.1 billion in proceeds

Loser: UltraPetrol Bahamas

  • Ticker: Nasdaq: ULTR
  • Industry: Marine transportation provider
  • Deal terms: 12.5 million shares, $11 per share
  • Lead managers: UBS and Bear Stearns
  • Filed: March 31
  • Opening day: Oct. 13, opened flat, closed at $10.54, 4.2% loss
  • Bleacher banter: Priced below its projected range of $13-$15

On deck
Several major IPOs are slated for the coming week, including the following:

Asthmatx

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: AZMA
  • Industry: Asthma treatment developer
  • Proposed deal terms: Five million shares, $11-$13 per share
  • Lead managers: Piper Jaffray, Bear Stearns, First Albany Capital, and Jefferies
  • Filed: July 24

BioVex

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: BVEX
  • Industry: Biotech
  • Proposed deal terms: 3.4 million shares, $11-$13 per share
  • Lead managers: Janney Montgomery and Stifel Nicolaus
  • Filed: June 20

ExlService Holdings

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: EXLS
  • Industry: Offshore business outsourcing
  • Proposed deal terms: Five million shares, $10-$12 per share
  • Lead managers: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Thomas Weisel
  • Filed: Dec. 6, 2004

First Mercury Financial

  • Proposed ticker: NYSE: FMR
  • Industry: Insurance underwriter
  • Proposed deal terms: 9.7 million shares, $16-$18 per share
  • Lead managers: JPMorgan and Keefe, Bruyette & Woods
  • Filed: May 30

LeMaitre Vascular

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: LMAT
  • Industry: Medical device supplier
  • Proposed deal terms: Six million shares, $8-$10 per share
  • Lead managers: Goldman Sachs, CIBC World Markets, Cowen & Company, and Thomas Weisel
  • Filed: April 26

Stanley, Inc.

  • Proposed ticker: NYSE: SXE
  • Industry: Government consultant
  • Proposed deal terms: 6.3 million shares, $12-$14 per share
  • Lead manager: Citigroup
  • Filed: May 12

Susser Holdings

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: SUSS
  • Industry: Convenience store operator
  • Proposed deal terms: Six million shares, $16-$18 per share
  • Lead managers: Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan, and Jefferies
  • Filed: May 12

Trubion Pharmaceuticals

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: TRBN
  • Industry: Biotech
  • Proposed deal terms: Four million shares, $13-$15 per share
  • Lead managers: Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Pacific Growth Equities, and Lazard Capital Markets
  • Filed: June 2

Universal Compression Partners

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: UCLP
  • Industry: Natural gas services provider
  • Proposed deal terms: 5.5 million shares, $19-$21 per share
  • Lead managers: Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers
  • Filed: June 27

Games of the Week
It should be another busy week for IPOs. While last week's success stories and a charging Nasdaq bode well for continued victories, no sensations are obvious among the upcoming lineup.

That being said, LeMaitre and Stanley are interesting competitors. The first, a medical device company, specializes in disposable and implantable vascular devices aimed at treating peripheral vascular disease. The company's financial picture is not as healthy; it has a $94 million accumulated deficit and does not expect to achieve near-term profitability. LeMaitre hopes to capitalize on the strength of its brands and the growing incidence of the disease, which currently affects 20 million people globally. The company expects the market for peripheral vascular devices to grow 8% annually.

Watch for Stanley to possibly take a ride on the coattails of SAI's successful launch. The government consultant provides information technology services to the U.S. defense industry and more than 38 federal civilian government agencies. The company boasts an impressive record on competitively awarded contracts and has been profitable for 10 years, with growing revenues. However, its operating margin has felt pressure this year.

As always, make sure you do your own warm-ups and read a company's offering documents before getting in on the game!

Warming up in the bullpen
Cadence Pharmaceuticals, a biotech, announced deal terms of 6 million shares, offered at $11-$13 per share. The lead managers are Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Pacific Growth Equities, and JMP Securities.

Gatehouse Media, a publishing services provider, announced deal terms of 11.5 million shares, offered at $16-$18 per share. The lead managers are Goldman Sachs and Wachovia.

Home Inns & Hotels Management, a Chinese hotel operator, announced deal terms of 7.9 million American depositary shares, offered at $10-$12 per share. The deal is expected to price the week of Oct. 23, and the lead managers are Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank.

Optium Corporation, a telecommunications subsystem provider, announced deal terms of 5.2 million shares, offered at $13.50-$15.50 per share. The deal is expected to price the week of Oct. 23, and the lead managers are Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Cowen & Company, and Jefferies & Company.

ORBCOMM, a satellite operator, announced deal terms of 11.1 million shares, offered at $12-$14 per share. The lead managers are UBS, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Cowen & Company,

Sent down to the minors
The following companies have postponed their initially scheduled offerings and remain on standby status: ImaRXTherapeutics, IviviTechnologies, Light Sciences Oncology, and Rosetta Genomics.

Minor-league developments
Get ready, get set . not yet! The latest filings announced during the last week include:

FCStone Group

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: FCSX
  • Industry: Risk management consultant
  • Proposed deal terms: Not yet determined
  • Lead managers: BMO Capital Markets
  • Filed: Oct. 12

National CineMedia

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: NCMI
  • Industry: In-theater network operator
  • Proposed deal terms: Not yet determined
  • Lead managers: Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley
  • Filed: Oct. 13

RRSat Global Communications

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: RRST
  • Industry: Israeli communications service provider
  • Proposed deal terms: 3.8 million shares, $11-$13 per share
  • Lead managers: CIBC World Markets and Thomas Weisel
  • Filed: Oct. 11

SHG Holding Solutions

  • Proposed ticker: NYSE: SKH
  • Industry: Healthcare service provider
  • Proposed deal terms: Not yet determined
  • Lead managers: Credit Suisse, UBS, and Bank of America
  • Filed: Oct. 10

Vision-Ease Lens Corporation

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: VELS
  • Industry: Prescription lens manufacturer
  • Proposed deal terms: Not yet determined
  • Lead manager: JPMorgan
  • Filed: Oct. 13

Disabled list
Hexion Specialty Chemicals, a resin producer, announced the withdrawal of its offering, which was set to be managed by Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

El Pollo Loco Holdings, a restaurant chain, announced the withdrawal of its offering, set to be managed by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, citing current market conditions.

Current champions
Meet our current 2006 champs. Among companies that went public this calendar year, these firms' percentage returns from their offer prices to last week's closing price rank them as the top five players:

Company

Return

Description

IPO Date

Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACOR)

+179.7%

Biotech

2/10/06

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG)

+158.2%

Mexican restaurant operator

1/26/06

Omrix Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OMRI)

+103.6%

Medical products

4/21/06

Riverbed Technology (NASDAQ:RVBD)

+85.1%

Tech

9/21/06

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX)

+85.1%

Footwear

2/8/06



Current benchwarmers
Now meet our current 2006 benchwarmers -- that's nicer to say than "losers," isn't it? Among companies that went public this calendar year, these firms' percentage returns from their offer prices to last week's closing price rank them as the bottom five players:

Company

Return

Description

IPO Date

Alphatec Holdings (NASDAQ:ATEC)

-66.7%

Medical device maker

6/2/06

Traffic.com (NASDAQ:TRFC)

-59.8%

Traffic information provider

1/25/06

SGX Pharmaceuticals (SGXP)

-57.5%

Biotech

2/1/06

Vonage Holdings (VG)

-57.2%

Telecom

5/24/06

Cardica (CRDC)

-49.2%

Medical device maker

2/3/06



Groupies & fan clubs
If you don't want to declare your loyalties for specific players, but still want to enjoy the action, consider subscribing to an IPO-focused mutual fund or exchange-traded fund. Of course, do your scouting homework here, too, and make sure you read their prospectuses before buying season tickets.

Last week, the IPO Plus Aftermarket (IPOSX), a mutual fund, gained 2.5%, again sliding past the 1.1% rise in the First Trust IPOX 100 (FPX), an ETF, and tying with the Nasdaq's same 2.5% increase. The red-hot Russell 2000 performed even better, posting a 3.1% advance.

Keep reading the Fool to see how your favorite players perform as they mature!

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Fool contributor S.J. Caplan roots for the Cleveland Indians when her husband is watching, and for the Boston Red Sox when he leaves the room. She holds no financial position in any firms or funds mentioned here. The Fool has a disclosure policy.