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The Best 2012 IPOs

It was a so-so year for initial public offerings.

Sure, the 128 companies that went public was the second-highest tally of the last five years. But those 2012 IPOs raised 23% less money than they did a year ago, and the 20% collective returns was only the fifth-highest total of the last decade.

Still, the 20% returns marked a sharp turnaround from the 10% losses IPOs suffered in 2011. In fact, it was the second-biggest collective annual gain for new offerings since 2006.

In a mixed-bag of a year for new stocks, here were the three best performing 2012 IPOs:

  • Vipshop Holdings (VIPS): Things didn’t start well for this China-based discount retailer. The stock fell 15% in a rather ominous debut. Since then it’s bounced back – and then some. VIPS shares have risen 154% since the company went public on March 22, finishing the year as the top performing IPO of 2012.
  • Proto Labs (PRLB): Despite pricing above its expected range, this manufacturer of prototyping parts has shot up 144.5% since its February 23 debut. More than half of its gains came in the stock’s first day of trading, when the shares shot up 81%.
  • Guidewire Software (GWRE): One of the year’s first IPOs was one of its best. Shares of the enterprise software provider have increased 137% since the stock’s January 24 debut despite pricing above their expected range. At 169 times earnings and coming off its weakest earnings period of the year, however, Guidewire could be headed for a fall.

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