Calix, Broadband Gear Maker, Goes Public

In what could be a red-letter day for not only broadband but for technology stocks, Calix Networks, a Petaluma, Calif.-based broadband equipment maker, has gone public. Shares of the company, which makes equipment for fiber-based networks, especially for independent service providers like CenturyTel, started trading on the NYSE under the ticker “CALX.”

The company raised $82.3 million after selling 6.33 million shares at the top end of its price range, for $13 a share, in an offering underwritten by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. At last check, shares were changing hands for $16.42. I think the success of Calix’s IPO bodes well for other companies such as Force 10 Networks and data center provider Telx, both of which also hope to go public in 2010. Together they represent the powerful trend of Internet infrastructure upgrades that is currently underway, thanks to demand for broadband-enabled applications, the rise of cloud computing and the popularity of mobile Internet devices.

Calix is an old-fashioned Silicon Valley company. It’s raised gobs of money — more than $200 million from private equity and venture investors including Riverwood Capital, Sprout Group and Foundation Capital. Other investors in the company include TeleSoft Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Azure Capital Partners.

Calix CEO Carl Russo, well known in Silicon Valley for two things — selling optical equipment startup Cerent to Cisco Systems (s csco) for more than $8 billion and racing cars — last year told me that the company was on target to have sales of $250 million. According to its S-1, Calix clocked sales of $232 million and lost $22.44 million for 2009.

Nevertheless, the company is looking at a bright future — as the National Broadband Plan gets implemented and broadband-related stimulus relief funds are spent by small and independent telecoms, Calix could see a nice lift in its business.