Supermarket operator Albertsons' shares reverse course in NYSE debut

(Reuters) – Shares of Albertsons Cos Inc ACI.N reversed course in their U.S. market debut during early trading on Friday, after opening 3% lower than their initial public offering price.

Shares of the supermarket operator now up 1.4% at $16.22, giving the company a valuation of $9.4 billion.

Albertsons on Thursday said it sold 50 million shares in the IPO at $16 apiece, missing its target of 65.8 million, and raised $800 million. The shares were earlier marketed at $18-$20 apiece.

The company ended the IPO market’s longest streak of days without a single deal pricing below targeted range since 2009, according to Renaissance Capital, which tracks IPOs.

The COVID-19 pandemic gave a boost to Albertsons’ revenue as consumers stocked up on food during lockdowns. Sales in March and most of April were up 34% from a year earlier. The scaling back of the IPO, however, indicated investor skepticism.

Rival supermarket chain Kroger Co (KR.N) said last week the surge in demand for essential goods it saw during the coronavirus outbreak was fading, as American households reconsider their needs.

Albertsons’ IPO was a culmination of multiple attempts by its private equity owner Cerberus Capital Management LP to cash out. Following the debut, Cerberus will own around 31.9% of the company.

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