Veridian stock makes strong Wall St. debut

Veridian Corp.'s stock closed June 5 at $18.15 per share in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, up 13.44 percent from its initial public offering price of $16. The stock opened the day at $18.

Trading under the exchange symbol VNX, Veridian expected to raise $216 million, offering 13.5 million shares at $16 a share, 1 million more shares than the company had previously announced.

"We felt we had a very well-received offering and strong investor interest," said David Langstaff, president and chief executive officer, who rang the day's closing bell on the exchange. "The consensus was that we could offer a few more shares. It helps the company to have the additional capital."

Langstaff said Veridian will use the money to pay down debt and "put the company in a much stronger position to be able to grow going forward." He said Veridian plans to grow its business base and will also consider strategic acquisitions.

The Arlington, Va., company offers information technology systems, integrated solutions and services, specializing in mission-critical national security programs. Ninety-five percent of Veridian's business is with the federal government. Its primary customers are the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies.

The company has 1,300 contracts serviced by more than 5,000 employees in more than 50 offices across the United States, Langstaff said.

Veridian's recent wins include a five-year, $27.2 million contract from the Air Force for research and development on the effects of biological hazards on battlefields. Work will focus on how radio frequency energy and biological hazards affect humans in the air and on the ground.

Several other federal IT contractors have gone public this year: SRA International Inc., ManTech International Inc. and Anteon Corp., all of Fairfax, Va. Two more firms are planning IPOs. PwC Consulting filed for a $1 billion IPO May 2, under the name PwCC Ltd. PwC Consulting is the management and consulting division of auditing and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP of New York. SI International Inc. of McLean, Va., filed May 10 for a $75 million IPO.

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2001, Veridian had revenue of $690.2 million and a net loss of $21.4 million, according to its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company ranked No. 53 in Washington Technology's Top 100 federal IT contractors for 2001.

Veridian's lead manager for the offering is Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. of New York. The co-managers are Wachovia Securities Corp., CIBC World Markets Inc. and SG Cowen Securities Corp. Veridian has granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an additional 2.025 million shares to help meet demand, Langstaff said.

"We are involved in a number of technologies that are very much appropriate for helping our customers address the new national security environment. We are excited about all facets of our business and think this is a good market for companies like Veridian," Langstaff said.

Veridian has worked with the Air Force for more than 50 years, has served the Navy for 40 years and law enforcement and intelligence communities for 30 years, he said.

"Taking the company public was never a goal by itself but rather a means to an end ? serving the national security community. We are very excited," Langstaff said.

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