There was plenty of buzz behind last week's busy IPO schedule, including the well-received offering from lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems (NASDAQ:AONE) and the disappointing introduction of Chinese online gaming giant Shanda Games (NASDAQ:GAME). But sadly, the market is overlooking Friday's debut of (NASDAQ:VITC), an online retailer of wellness and beauty-care products.

A123 and Shanda Games priced at the high end of expectations, but Vitacost's 11 million shares went to market at $12, smack-dab in the middle of its expected range.

That's a pity, because Vitacost's heady top-line growth certainly merits attention.


Net Sales

Operating Profits

Net Profit


$66.4 million

$0.2 million

$0.2 million


$99.3 million

$0.3 million

$1.8 million


$143.6 million

$1.7 million

$0.0 million

Source: Form S-1/A filing.

Worrywarts will naturally gravitate to the pathetic margins. Even with marked improvement in operating profits last year, operating margins that clock in at a mere 1% -- and barely breaking even on the bottom line – aren't all that exciting.

I guess that's why Vitacost waited until now to go public. Through the first six months of 2009, net sales rose 36%, with $11.9 million in operating profits and $7.2 million in net income.

Is the e-tail sector cutthroat? You bet. But 32% of Vitacost's net sales last year came from proprietary products. That's a real differentiator in a niche where every competitor is a click away.

The financials also compare favorably to the slower-growing and marginally profitable (NASDAQ:DSCM), though it's hard to ignore that Vitacost completed its IPO on the heels of renewed market interest in

Shares of have nearly quadrupled since bottoming out in March. Larger e-tailers (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) have some skin in this game, but there is clearly appeal in the specialists.

Friday's debut of Vitacost was light on octane. The shares opened exactly at the $12 IPO price. Trading volume may have been a brisk 616,000 shares, but the stock moved in a tight range, closing at a yawn-inducing $11.98 sticker price.

If Vitacost's model is scalable -- and the first six months of cautious overhead growth is the real deal, and not just a ruse to butter up the pre-IPO income statements -- this is a new offering that the market won't ignore much longer.

Have you bought into any of the IPOs of 2009? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of new stocks, and has even recommended several fresh IPOs to newsletter readers in the past. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.