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Palm Computing's IPO

3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) spun off Palm (Nasdaq: PALM) as a separate company. Late in January, the underwriters teased investors with an original offer to sell the stock in a range of $14-$16 per share, with the stated intention of raising about $345 million in proceeds. One month later the range was nearly doubled, and the night before the IPO the price was set at $38 per share, guaranteeing proceeds to the company of $874 million --153% more cash than expected. Because institutional investors were already committed to lots of open market orders, Palm soared 281.6 percent over the offer price, opening at $145 per share. That gave the company an instant, though transient, total of 3.3 billion. Palm reached a high of $165. As of today (March 7) the stock is down to $64, still almost 1.5 billion dollars raised.

One of the biggest winners in the spin-off is 3Com itself. On December 1 of last year, the company closed at $40.46 per share. Since that time, investors, looking for a shortcut to acquire Palm shares, bought stock in 3Com to become "holders of record." On March 2, 3Com closed at $104.88 per share. After the offering, 3Com still owns 93 percent of Palm, but it has publicly stated that it is committed to severing operations with the offspring company turning over its Palm shares to 3Com shareholders within six months.

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