Birkenstock prices IPO at $46 a share, at low end of range

Iconic German sandal maker Birkenstock priced its initial public offering at $46 a share late Tuesday, a bit shy of the midpoint of its expected range, as investors remain cautious about new public debuts and the casual-footwear market remains competitive.

With that pricing, Birkenstock would fetch a valuation of around $8.6 billion. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Birkenstock had expected to sell more than 32 million shares at an IPO price of between $44 and $49 a share. The company is expected to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday under the ticker “BIRK.” Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the lead underwriters.

Also read: Birkenstock’s looming IPO is expected to become the next test of investor appetite for deals

The roughly 250-year-old company would make its debut as other large shoe makers, such as Nike Inc.

and Adidas
try to capitalize on a broader consumer shift toward more casual sneakers and attire. Birkenstock, which unlike many IPOs is profitable, describes itself as a company that has been welcomed across a variety of scenes over the decades — hippies in the 1970s, environmentalists in the ’80s and, in the ’90s, women inspired by the feminism movement looking for relief from high heels.

“Today, consumers turn to Birkenstock in their search for healthy, high-quality products and as a rejection of formal dress culture,” the company said in its IPO filing.

More recently, Birkenstock’s Boston clogs have enjoyed a rebound in popularity. The “Barbie” movie, which features the sandal, has also spurred greater interest. And the company, which depends on the Americas and Europe for a lot of its sales, has been investing more in e-commerce.

Still, Birkenstock faces “material indebtedness,” and “material weaknesses” in its financial controls, according to its IPO filing. And its debut would follow some shakier performances from other recent IPOs, like Maplebear Inc.
better known as the online grocery delivery service Instacart, and chip designer Arm Holdings
Shares of those companies are down since their debuts.

Renaissance Capital Founder and CEO Bill Smith said Birkenstock was hoping to appeal to investors based on a “combination of profitability and growth, along with widespread brand recognition.”

However, New Constructs Chief Executive David Trainer raised concerns about the company’s potential valuation, when compared with rival footwear makers, and noted the weaker performances from Instacart and Arm.

“We don’t doubt that Birkenstock has strong brand equity and produces stylish sandals, but there is really no reason for this company to be public,” he said. “We do not think investors should expect to make any money by buying this IPO.”

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