Thousands of small investors reaped profits of up to $16,000 each yesterday as the value of their stakes in Li Ka-shing's Internet company Tom.com rocketed on their first day of trading. Punters who sold as the price peaked at $9.70 would have made a gross profit of just under $16,000 on their 2,000-share allocation. Those who held on to their shares were $12,000 up at the close of trading on their initial investments of $3,560. Shares in the Internet start-up, backed by Mr Li's flagships Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa, closed at $7.75, justifying the optimism of more than 300,000 who queued to lodge applications in chaotic scenes last week. Most small investors were allotted 2,000 shares at $1.78 each. This meant most could make a profit of between $11,940 and $15,840, minus brokers' fees. Trading was frantic with 303 million shares traded, making it the third-hottest stock of the day after Pacific Century CyberWorks and Cable and Wireless HKT. 'We got quite a lot of orders but not all of them were executed in time - 2,000-share orders are not exactly a priority,' said broker Philip Ho Lap-chun. 'There are also some share-holders who are hanging on to see if prices will still go up. They are not too worried because they think they are buying Li Ka-shing and the Li family seems unstoppable these days.' Alex Tang Yee-yuk, Core Pacific-Yamaichi research director, said the performance of Tom.com was higher than his expectation of $4 to $6: 'It's the charismatic effect of the big names.' He said most retail investors were 'one-day' traders, reflected in the large number of shares changing hands yesterday. 'The market dived in the last hour of trading, triggering many investors in Tom.com to dump their stock.' Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, managing director of Christfund Securities, said many investors needed to sell the stock to get the cash to subscribe to upcoming offerings such as SUNeVision. Mr Cheung said there were still buyers. 'People are willing to pay a price five times more than the issue price of the company was because they have a dream about hi-tech stocks' future prospects,' he said. 'However, investors should be cautious that this kind of dream buy doesn't always come true.' An investor and lawyer, 65, said he had avoided dotcom stocks as a matter of principle because the Internet bubble could burst any time. 'Think about it. These dotcom companies have no underlying assets and values. Maybe Li Ka-shing can still build something with Tom.com because he has got the cash, but I don't like these risky stocks.' Tom.com sold 42.8 million shares to the public. They were over-subscribed by 669 times after more than 300,000 people queued in the wet and cold outside banks last week to deposit their applications. Police were called in and the chaos drew criticisms by securities regulators against Tom.com sponsors BNP Prime Peregrine and HSBC.