IPO Aftermarket: I’m a Bull! No, I’m a Bear! Wait, I’m a … Blear! –

The confused “blear” market is wreaking havoc among new issues. Of the 36 venture-backed companies that went public between August 2001 and July 2002, a full 64% (23 companies in all) were trading below their initial public offering prices as of July 31. That’s a sharp increase from the previous month, when losers accounted for 52% of the pie. What’s even more disturbing is that the average new issue stock price fell 7% during the most recent month, in contrast to an average gain of 9% in the prior period. And while three new issues more than doubled their offering prices by June, that had all faded away, and none had gained more than 78% by July.

The top five gainers were virtually the same, except for new entrant PayPal, an online payment service. It climbed from the eighth slot in June to fourth place in July. Odyssey HealthCare, a provider of hospice care to terminally ill patients, continued to hold the top spot, a position it has held since March, showing a 78% gain since its offering. Discount airline JetBlue followed with a 72% increase. Centene, which provides managed care for Medicaid recipients, came in at No. 3 with a 70% increase, while medical staffing service Cross Country Travcorps grew just a hair less than PayPal with a 68% up tick since its offering in October 2001.