NASDAQ was pitching an IPO shutout for January until Exact (EXAS) hit a single on the last day of the month. The cancer diagnostic company raised $56 million through the sale of 4 million shares at $14 underwritten by Merrill Lynch; CIBC World Markets; and Thomas Weisel. The company, which uses genomics to develop cancer diagnostics, priced at the bottom of its range, after originally filing to raise up to $69 million on Oct. 27. Friday's close of $14.375 values the company at $268.8 million.

Biotech shouldn't feel slighted, as only three IPOs priced on NASDAQ last month: Peet's Coffee & Tea and orthodonture play Align Technology.

Indeed, global fundraising by the sector totaled $691 million in January, compared to $1.7 billion in January 2000. February has started with a bang, however, as Aviron (AVIR) raised $400 million in two deals on Friday - $200 million in a follow-on plus $200 million in a convert deal, and both deals were bumped up. On Jan. 12, AVIR filed to sell 3 million shares in the follow-on, when its price was $53.75. On the same day, it filed to raise $150 million in the note deal. The stock closed at $50, down $2.688 on the week.

Further on the IPO front, Xenogen will try again to get its 7 million-share IPO out after its pricing was delayed the past two weeks due to the choppy markets. The developer of in vivo biophotonic imaging systems hopes to sell the shares at $9. Also, scuttlebutt is that Third Wave, a developer of DNA amplification systems, will price its IPO in the latter half of this week.

Delayed reaction

It took a very careful reading of the two press releases that Alexion put out on Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, but investors finally figured out that the trial of its C5 inhibitor monoclonal antibody missed its primary end point in cardiopulmonary bypass patients (see BioCentury, Jan. 29). The Street proceeded to take back all of ALXN's 33 percent gains from the prior week and then some.