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Oatly shares soar 24% in company’s public market debut on Nasdaq

Oatly shares soared 24% during the company’s public market debut Thursday.

The stock’s opening trade was $22.12 just before noon, giving it a market value of $13.1 billion and putting shares about 30% above the initial public offering price. Shares lost some of those gains in the minutes following the first trade.

On Wednesday night, the Swedish company priced its U.S. initial public offering at $17 per share, at the top of its indicated range, raising $1.4 billion. At that price, the implied valuation is $10 billion, well above the current market value of another company that specializes in making substitutes for animal products, Beyond Meat. The oat-milk maker is trading on the Nasdaq under the stock ticker “OTLY.”

Oatly made its U.S. debut in coffee shops five years ago, building a strong following for its oat-based milk substitute. The company focused on getting baristas and coffee drinkers hooked on oat milk’s creamy texture and ability to froth before pushing into grocery stores. Since then, oat milk sales have surged, more than tripling in 2020, based on Nielsen data. Still, almond milk holds on to the top spot for dairy substitutes.

Oatly has also been expanding its portfolio, branching out into oat-based ice cream and yogurt.

In 2020, Oatly’s revenue more than doubled, reaching $421.4 million. Food service accounted for a quarter of sales, and retailers accounted for the rest. The company reported a net loss of $60.36 million as it focused on entering new markets, building brand awareness and expanding production.

“I don’t see anyone else taking that leadership position the way we are,” CEO Toni Petersson said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday. “We are really serious and ambitious about what we’re going to do here.”

Oprah, Natalie Portman and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz are among the big names who have invested in Oatly. State-backed China Resources took a majority stake in the company in 2016 through a joint venture with Belgium’s Verlinvest, and Blackstone invested $200 million in the company last year, giving the firm a stake of about 10%.

Oatly said in regulatory filings that it plans to use the IPO proceeds for working capital, to fund incremental growth and other general corporate purposes.

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