Two subprime mortgage specialists went public late last week and were greeted with open arms by the investment community.

On Thursday, Life Financial Corp., the holding company for Life Savings Bank, announced that it was offering 2.9 million shares of common stock at $11 a share.

Life Savings, with four branches in California, Colorado, and Florida, originates and sells one- to four-family mortgage loans made to customers with poor credit history.

The bank had $157.7 million of assets on March 31 and $130.8 million of deposits. Life Financial said it will use proceeds of the sale to purchase or start up short-term warehouse credit lines and for general corporate purposes.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods was the managing underwriter.

On Friday, New Century Financial Corp. completed an initial public offering of 3.5 million shares of common stock, also at $11 per share. Cornerstone Fund 1, acting as selling shareholder, sold 600,000 shares in the offering, and New Century sold the remainder.

Net proceeds to New Century were expected to be about $28.8 million, the company said.

New Century, based in Irvine, Calif., originates, sells, and services subprime mortgages, predominantly on single-family residences. The company was expected to go to market at $8.50 to $10.50 per share. Last year New Century's revenue was $14.5 million.

Montgomery Securities, San Francisco, and Piper Jaffray, Minneapolis, were managing underwriters.

Both companies were welcomed by Wall Street: Life Saving stock jumped $2.625 in the days following its initial public offering, to $13.625 by midday Tuesday. And New Century's stock had climbed to $14.125 by midday Tuesday.

This is in direct contrast to the last initial public offering conducted in the subprime mortgage sector.

Long Beach Financial Corp. brought 21.75 million shares to market on April 28, at $6.50 a share. The company's stock was originally expected to fetch $10 to $12 a share.

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