Chewy CEO Sumit Singh (C) rings the opening bell to commence the day’s trading for the Chewy Inc. IPO at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), June 14, 2019.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Shares of Chewy, the online pet product retailer owned by PetSmart, soared 85% Friday morning after the company made its public debut.
The retailer’s stock opened Friday at $36, giving the company a market capitalization of $14.3 billion.
On Thursday night, Chewy priced 46 million shares at $22 apiece, above the indicative range of $19 to $21 that it had given. The amount of stock offered in the deal was 5 million more than expected, and raised $1 billion.
Chewy, founded in 2011 by Ryan Cohen and Michael Day, calls itself the “largest pure-play pet e-tailer in the United States.” It has distinguished itself from many of its competitors with customer service that includes 24/7 access and two-day shipping of online orders.
Its loyal customer base, 60% growth rate and $3.5 billion in sales helped it to attract investors in its IPO, said Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, which manages IPO-focused exchange traded funds.
Still, the company is not without fail. The high cost of shipping has eaten into its margins. From fiscal 2017 to 2018, it reported a net loss of $268 million, narrowing from a net loss of $338 million.
But sales have grown rapidly, climbing from $26 million in fiscal 2012 to $3.5 billion in fiscal 2018, according the company’s S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
After its IPO, its parent PetSmart will own roughly 70% of the company’s common stock and hold roughly 77% voting power. PetSmart, which is backed by private equity firm BC Partners, acquired Chewy in 2017 for roughly $3 billion.
“The acquisition of Chewy made strategic sense for the company as it added online expertise and scale and complements PetSmart’s brick and mortar business while immediately increasing PetSmart’s online penetration. … However, at $3 billion the acquisition of Chewy was financed primarily through additional debt and like most high growth pure play online retailers we estimate Chewy will be EBITDA negative for at least the next 12-24 months,” wrote analysts at Moody’s in February.
Since its sale to PetSmart, Chewy has expanded its private label business and launched “Chewy Pharmacy,” an online pet pharmacy.
Chewy said in its prospectus it will seek continued growth by broadening the array of products it offers, finding new customers and expanding further into pharmacy.
The company is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “CHWY.”