Can it get any worse?

The sluggish VC-backed IPO market almost halted in January, with just a single new issue: Oculus Innovative Sciences (Nasdaq: OCLS). That compares to two venture-backed IPOs in January 2006 and 10 in January 2005.

Oculus, which makes products to treat infection in chronic and acute wounds, hoped to raise $80 million when it registered to go public in July 2006. It lumbered out of the chute at $8 per share (the low end of its range) on Jan. 25, raising just $24 million. Its stock price had fallen to $7.27 as of Feb. 8.

The poor showing isn’t that surprising when you consider that Oculus went public with annual revenue of less than $3 million and three years of losses.

The market for VC-backed IPOs was still lethargic as of early February. Three venture-backed companies managed to go public as of Feb. 8, but none was trading above its offering price: Xtent (Nasdaq: XTNT), which makes drug-eluting stents, priced at $16 per share on Feb. 1 and closed at $15.44 on Feb. 8; Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MIPI), a maker of molecular imaging drugs, priced at $14 per share on Feb. 2 and was still at that price on Feb. 8; and Synta Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SNTA), a maker of small-molecule drugs, priced at $10 per share on Feb. 6 and closed at $9.84 on Feb. 8.

Where are they now?

Of the two VC-backed companies that went public in January 2006, one is up and one is down.

Altus Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ALTU) priced at $15 per share on Jan. 26, 2006, and climbed as high as $25.70 last year. It closed at $18.31 on Feb. 6. (Nasdaq: TRFC) went out at $12 per share on Jan. 25, 2006, and never took off. Its 52-week high is just $12.15 and its low is $3.38. Its price per share was $8.35 on Feb. 6. —Lawrence Aragon