After a ghastly 2008, underwriters saw the tumbleweed clear out in 2009 with a decent turnaround in new stock offerings. Hoovers' IPO Central lists 32 Wall Street debutantes during the fourth quarter alone -- or 31 more than the single company that dared to go public during the same quarter a year earlier.

Naturally, there were winners and losers. Don't be surprised if you're not familiar with all of the victors. There were healthy opening-day pops for popular specialists in language software, online restaurant reservations, and lithium-ion batteries, but they didn't make the cut for 2009's top performers.

The three biggest gains came from Chinese equities. Then there was a tech company with a name that suggests that it's an alternative-energy company, followed by a company that makes baby formula.

Yes, baby formula.

Let's go over the debutante leaders.



Lihua International (NASDAQ:LIWA)


Duoyuan Global Water (NYSE:DGW)



SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI)


Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE:MJN)


Source: Hoovers' IPO Central.

The five companies don't have a whole lot in common.

Lihua makes industrial wires. Duoyuan manufactures water conditioning, filtration, and purification products. Changyou is a rapidly growing provider of online gaming experiences in China. SolarWinds programs economically priced network-management software. Mead Johnson's flagship nutritional line is Enfamil baby formula.

There were other winners, of course. Mall retailer rue21 (NASDAQ:RUE) rose by 48% on the heels of its healthy niche-defying comps. A123 (NASDAQ:AONE) popped by 66% in 2009, as investors bought into the appeal of its lithium-ion batteries as a green play on sustainable transportation.

In the end, the success of these IPOs in 2009 should mean that we see even more companies going public in 2010.

Bring on the rookies!

What private company would you like to see go public in 2010? Share your answer in the comment box below.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of new stocks and has even recommended several fresh IPOs to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter readers in the past. He owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.