Stock Watch: Blaze Software IPO Catches Fire

Blaze Software, Inc. (Nasdaq: BLZE) nearly doubled in its first day of trading Thursday, rising 11 /34 to close at 27 3/4 amid optimism about Internet-related companies. There were early hints that demand would be strong: The 4 million common shares were priced at $16 apiece, above the original estimate of $12 to $14.

Blaze makes e-business software that allows companies to adapt and personalize transactions over the Internet, as well as through customer-service centers and other channels. The technology, Blaze claims, can act as a customer service representative, pointing a customer in the right direction without the need for a phone call.

Revenue for the nine months ended December 31, 1999 totaled $11.7 million, up from $6 million in the same period a year earlier. The revenue gain, however, was offset by a $17 million net loss for the latest period.

Blaze competes with BroadVisionInc. (Nasdaq: BVSN) and other companies, which have seen their stock prices soar once the shares are available to the public. While analysts question whether valuations should be as high as they are, new issues remain hot. “Usually these are highly overvalued,” said George Nichols, equity analyst at Morningstar, Inc., “but it’s a relative valuation.”

Blaze could be a merger candidate down the road. “Although they’re in somewhat of a unique niche, they aren’t really the market leader, and this kind of market is consolidating,” Nichols said in an interview with the E-Commerce Times. “I would think that Blaze, which is not a really big company, will use this IPO currency to acquire more companies or at least consider being acquired eventually.”

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