The number of U.S. initial public offerings (IPOs) surged in the first quarter compared with activity in Q1 2009, according to Hoover’s. The information company announced that 28 companies raised $4.5 billion as they went public on major U.S. stock exchanges in Q1 2010. In the same quarter last year, two companies went public, raising $722 million. This was the third consecutive quarter-over-quarter increase in U.S. IPOs, Hoover’s said in a statement. In Q4 2009, 32 companies went public, raising some $17 billion.

Hoover’s said that Q1 started off slowly before picking up during the week of March 22, marked by the successful Financial Engines Inc. IPO, which rose 44% on its first day of trading. That and a steadier stock market appeared to bolster the IPO market. During the first week of April, Hoover’s said, all five companies that went public opened above their offer price.

However, Hoover’s industry expert Tim Walker acknowledged that a lack of brand names on the IPO roster during Q1 may have disappointed investors. “Even though the quarter ended on a higher note, the lack of flagship IPOs, plus greater concerns about investment risk in a shaky economy, seemed to dampen investors’ enthusiasm for IPOs during the quarter,” he said.

Michael S. Fischer (msf7@columbia.edu) is a New York-based financial writer and editor and a frequent contributor to Wealth Manager.