After a lull in supply during the last two weeks, the first week of February will kick off with noticeably more vigor thanks to at least two significantly sized deals - a $950 million California school deal and a $614 million general obligation sale in the Southeast.

The offerings are part of an estimated $3.86 billion in total new-issue volume expected in the competitive and negotiated markets this week, compared with a revised $3.38 billion last week, according to Thomson Reuters.

Tomorrow, retail investors will get first crack at the week's largest deal - $950 million of GOs from the Los Angeles Unified School District - ahead of Wednesday's institutional pricing by Barclays Capital.

The deal is structured to mature serially from 2010 to 2024 with term bonds expected in 2029 and 2034, and is rated Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's.

The LAUSD issue is among the five out of six largest deals whose issuers are using retail order periods to capitalize on the strength of retail demand in recent months.

"Retail is the only demand-side component that seems to be out there," Fred Yosca, managing director and head of trading and underwriting at BNY Capital Markets in New York City, said last week.

"The market cheapened three or four days in a row, but this week it really has stabilized. The market is still cheap to governments and there is still real yield on the long end of the market," he said - a selling point among the buy-and-hold, mom and pop crowd.

Yosca promoted retail order periods as a valuable tool for issuers and underwriters.

"It gets the bonds in the hands of the ultimate buyers who tend to hold onto them to maturity and it gives underwriters the flexibility to use split coupons: retail coupons priced at par, and premium coupons for institutions," he explained.

It also guarantees wider distribution among selling group members who, before retail order periods became widely used, would be unlikely to get bond orders for their clients filled if the deal was well priced and well spoken for among the senior managers' own customers.

"It's definitely part of the landscape now," especially as absolute yield levels on the long-end are an enticing tax-free alternative to long Treasuries, Yosca said.

Georgia, meanwhile, will sell its first-ever negotiated, new-money GO offering to investors in a two-day retail order period that begins today ahead of the official pricing by Merrill, Lynch & Co. for institutions on Wednesday.

It will also be the market's largest GO deal nationally since early September when the credit crisis chased many issuers with large transactions from the competitive into the negotiated market.

Expected to flaunt triple-A ratings from the major rating agencies, the deal consists of $61.8 million of five-year bonds that will finance various short-term capital needs, and $552 million of 20-year paper that will finance longer-term capital improvement projects, such as schools, transportation, and higher education facilities.

Elsewhere in the region, the Kentucky Economic Development Financing Authority will issue $217.4 million of hospital revenue bonds on behalf of the Baptist Health Care System Obligated Group on Thursday when Goldman, Sachs & Co. officially prices the deal for institutions on the heels of a retail order period Wednesday.

Rated Aa3 by Moody's and AA-minus by Fitch, the deal is tentatively structured to mature serially from 2010 to 2019 with term bonds likely in 2024 and 2029.

In other activity, a $328.8 million sale of general revenue bonds by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is planned for pricing by JPMorgan on Wednesday following a retail order period tomorrow. The structure includes $98 million of Series A bonds that mature from 2010 to 2016 and from 2023 to 2029, as well as $230 million of Series B bonds that mature from 2010 to 2029, with term bonds expected in 2034 and 2039.

The water bonds are rated Aa2 by Moody's and AA by Fitch and Standard & Poor's.

In addition, a pair of sizable deals are expected out of the Lone Star State, the largest of which is a $173.9 million revenue financing from the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents planned for today. Although there is no official retail order period, book-runner RBC Capital Markets is giving priority to Texan and national retail investors, according to an underwriter.

Serial bonds will mature from 2009 to 2028, with ratings of Aa3 from Moody's and AA from Standard & Poor's and Fitch.

Texas will add its $152.9 million sale of GOs to the activity tomorrow after today's retail order period by senior manager Morgan Stanley.

Both Series 2009 and Sub-Series 2009 - which are being sold on behalf of the Texas Water Board - mature from 2010 to 2029, according to the preliminary official statement. The bonds are expected to carry ratings of Aa1 from Moody's, AA from Standard & Poor's, and AA-plus from Fitch.

This week's volume is a noticeable increase from last week when the largest deal was a $300 million sale from the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority last Tuesday. That deal was run by Morgan Stanley with a final maturity due in 2029 that carried a 51/2% coupon repriced to yield 5.63%.

The bonds - which were rated Aa3 by Moody's, AA by Standard & Poor's, and AA-minus by Fitch - were 58 basis points higher in yield than the generic triple-A GO due in 2039 at the time of the pricing and 13 basis points cheaper than a comparable generic double-A GO, according to Municipal Market Data.

The generic triple-A GO due in 2039 ended with a yield of 5.00% on Friday, 5.02% on Thursday, and 5.05% on Wednesday, according to MMD.

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