January is a big month for IPOs coming off lockups. By Ebb & Flow's count, 18 biotech companies that sold IPOs in 2000 will have about 314.4 million shares become eligible for trading this month (see "Unshackled"). Historically, biotech companies have about a 50:50 chance of trading down on the news. But with NASDAQ's woes, only 2 of the 18 remain above their IPO prices, so the odds may not be so favorable. For example, Pain Therapeutics (PTIE) was caught in the equity sell-off last week. The shares fell $5 (34 percent) to $9.875, compared to its July IPO price of $12, when the company raised $60 million. On Tuesday, 21 million shares, 81 percent of PTIE's shares outstanding, are scheduled to come off lockup.

On the flip side, companies and bankers have been proactive in finding a home for any shares that might be flipped, thereby maintaining a relatively stable market for companies going through lockup expirations. Along those lines, holders of 20.2 million shares of The Medicines Co. (MDCO) agreed not to sell any shares of common stock during the 90-day period after the effectiveness of a 4 million share follow-on filed late Friday (see B15).

Rich getting richer

Companies that started 2000 with big market caps had success in fattening both their market caps and balance sheets last year. There were 24 companies valued above $3 billion at the start of 2000, of which 22 traded up on the year. The two decliners - MedImmune (MEDI) and Affymetrix (AFFX) - did not lose much (11 and 7 percent, respectively), and both experienced nice runs going into 2000. The top tier companies also had success at raising money: 14 of the 24 collectively raised $7.1 billion. Thus less than 3 percent of the 490 public companies tracked by BioCentury raised more than 20 percent of the $32.4 billion raised by all publicly held biotechs.