It was a reasonably quiet start for the incoming class of 2013.

More than two dozen companies went public during the first three months of the year. Some companies never got out of the gate. Toys R Us decided to hold off on its IPO this past weekend, for example. Some of the rookies that did make it out stumbled, currently trading for less than their initial price tags.

Let's turn our attention to the winners. Nearly half of the first quarter's debutantes came through with double-digit gains. Let's take a look at some of the best performers.



April 2, 2013






Norwegian Cruise Lines (NYSE:NCLH)




Artisan Partners (NYSE:APAM)












Source: The Wall Street Journal.

ExOne was the hottest performer of the 2013 newbies. Even though the established darlings of 3-D printing have buckled this year after huge gains in 2012, this provider of industrial 3-D printing machines and printed products nearly doubled out of the gate.

ExOne posted its first quarterly report as a public company last week. It's still early in its growth cycle, selling just eight machines during the holiday quarter. It did manage to post a quarterly profit on a mere $12.7 million in revenue, and is targeting revenue to grow 65% to 80% in 2013.

Norwegian Cruise Lines was the quarter's second-biggest winner, overcoming more mishaps at its larger rival to coast along for a big gain. Interrupted sailings on the Carnival Triumph and Carnival Destiny dealt the cruise industry blows that will probably result in soft bookings for all players. Horror stories from the powerless Carnival Triumph in particular made cruising a popular punch line during the period. However, as the global economy improves, NCL and its fellow cruise lines should return to glory.

Artisan Partners Asset Management proved to be as good an investment as some of its mutual funds. The money manager is best known for the top-performing Artisan International Value Investor, a fund that, according to Morningstar, has beat out 99% of its peers over the past one-, three-, five-, and 10-year periods. Investors are turning to ETFs as an alternative to traditional mutual funds, but it's hard to bet against a proven money manager.

Model N is a fast-growing player in enterprise software, offering revenue management solutions for the high-tech and medical industries.

"Customers lose tens of billions each year by leaving money on the table because they do not effectively manage pricing, rebates/incentives and contracting," Model N's CEO told Forbes' Tom Taulli as it went public. Simply replacing the systems already in place is at least a $5 billion market.

Finally, we have Aviv. Unlike most real estate investment trusts that specialize in housing or commercial properties, Aviv currently owns 258 nursing homes. The company leases them out to experienced operators, passing on most of its funds from operations to its investors.

It was a strong start for these five winners. Now let's see which debutantes shine in the second quarter.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.