Just like opening day at the ballpark, investing in 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 a domestic aircraft parts manufacturer flying past the other players. The players are ranked below, according to their returns from their offering price to the close of their first trading day.

Spirit AeroSystems Holdings

  • Ticker: NYSE: SPR
  • Industry: Aircrafts parts manufacturer
  • Deal terms: 55.1 million shares at $26 per share
  • Lead managers: Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley
  • Filed: June 30
  • Opening day: Nov. 21, opened at $27.55, closed at $29; 11.5% gain
  • Bleacher banter: Priced above its proposed range of $25 to $26 per share, and the offering size was increased by three million shares. The deal was the second-largest of the year, behind the $2.4 billion offering of MasterCard (NYSE:MA)

Willdan Group

  • Ticker: Nasdaq: WLDN
  • Industry: Outsourcing services provider
  • Deal terms: 2.9 million shares at $10 per share
  • Lead manager: Wedbush Morgan
  • Filed: Aug. 9
  • Opening day: Nov. 21, opened at $10.11, closed at $10.56; 5.6% gain
  • Bleacher banter: Priced at the midpoint of its proposed range, and the company increased the offering size by 100,000 shares sold by insiders

North American Energy Partners

  • Ticker: NYSE: NOA
  • Industry: Canadian oil and gas services provider
  • Deal terms: 12.5 million shares at $16 per share
  • Lead managers: Credit Suisse, UBS, and Jefferies & Co.
  • Filed: July 21
  • Opening day: Nov. 22, opened at $15.50, closed at $16.10; 0.6% gain
  • Bleacher banter: Priced substantially below its proposed range of $19 to $21 per share

AerCap Holdings

  • Ticker: NYSE: AER
  • Industry: Aircraft lessor
  • Deal terms: 26.1 million shares at $23 per share
  • Lead managers: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers
  • Filed: Nov. 2
  • Opening day: Nov. 21, opened at $25, closed at $23.02; 0.1% gain over the offer price
  • Bleacher banter: Priced at the midpoint of its proposed range

On deck
Only two games are planned for this week, including these offerings:

Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: OMAB
  • Industry: Mexican airport operator
  • Proposed deal terms: 10.7 million shares at $14.50 to $16.50 per share
  • Lead manager: Citigroup
  • Filed: Nov. 15

Netlist

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: NLST
  • Industry: Memory device maker
  • Proposed deal terms: 6.3 million shares at $7 to $9 per share
  • Lead manager: Thomas Weisel
  • Filed: Aug. 18

Game of the week
Continuing our theme of air transport companies, a Mexican airport operator, Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte, is likely to draw attention this week.

The reason is simple: another Mexican airport operator, Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (NYSE:PAC), went public in February. Grupo Pacifico has been a frequent member of our current champions rankings list, up more than 87% from its offering price as of Friday.

Centro Norte was formed in 1998 and is smaller than its peer. The company earned $22 million in net income for the six-month period ended in June, compared with $201.8 million for Pacific Airport Group's nine-month period ended in September. For 2005, Centro Norte reported $31 million net income and $122 million in revenues.

Shares are expected to begin trading on Wednesday. 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
Allegiant Travel Company, a passenger airline, announced terms of five million shares at $15 to $17 each. The offering is expected the week of Dec. 4, and the lead managers are Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and Raymond James.

Atlas Energy Resources, an oil and gas producer, announced terms of 6.3 million units at $19 to $21 per unit. The lead manager is UBS.

Carrols Restaurant Group, a quick-service food operator, announced terms of 15 million shares at $14 to $16 each. The lead managers are Wachovia and Banc of America.

MEDecision, a software provider, lowered the price on its proposed 5.5 million shares to $11.50 to $13.50 from $14 to $16 per share. The lead manager is Cowen and Co.

Sent down to the minors
No company announced postponements of planned offerings last week.

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

Synta Pharmaceuticals

  • Proposed ticker: Nasdaq: SNTA
  • Industry: Biotech
  • Proposed deal terms: Not determined
  • Lead managers: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers
  • Filed: Nov. 22

Disabled list
Hawkeye Holdings, an ethanol producer, and NEG Inc., an oil and gas explorer, withdrew their planned offerings last week.

Champions
Meet our 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

Riverbed Technology (NASDAQ:RVBD)

234.2%

Tech

9/21

Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACOR)

233.3%

Biotech

2/10

Omrix Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OMRI)

206.9%

Biotech

4/21

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG)

177.3%

Mexican restaurant operator

1/26

MasterCard

170.5%

Credit card provider

5/25



Benchwarmers
Now meet our 2006 benchwarmers -- that's nicer to say than "losers," isn't it? Among companies that went public this 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

Vonage Holdings

-60.9%

Telecom

5/24

Alphatec Holdings

-55.6%

Medical device maker

6/2

Restore Medical

-54.4%

Medical device maker

5/17

SGX Pharmaceuticals

-52.5%

Biotech

2/1

Aventine Renewable Energy

-46.6%

Ethanol producer

6/29



Groupies and 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 market again fared better than the general market. In first place, the IPO Plus Aftermarket (FUND:IPOSX), a mutual fund, gained 2.2%, while the First Trust IPOX 100 (AMEX:FPX), an exchange-traded fund, rose 1.7%. The broader market treaded water during the holiday week, with the Nasdaq advancing 0.6% and the Russell 2000 increasing 0.5%.

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

We're publicly offering further Foolishness:

Sources: Renaissance Capital's IPOhome.com, SEC filings, and Reuters.

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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.