NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Keebler's elves were certainly smiling Wednesday after the food company's initial public offering came to market at $24 a share.
According to lead underwriter First Boston, some 11,465,000 Keebler shares were priced late Wednesday at $24 each -- the top of the $21 to $24 a share range -- generating about $275 million before fees.
Analysts had predicted the offering of Keebler Foods Inc. (KBL) would be a smash hit, because of Keebler's brand-name recognition and dominant position in the snack-food industry.
"It's safe," John Fitzgibbon, editor of IPO Aftermarket, said earlier this week. "What you're going to be seeing initially is a lot of interest."
The company, whose advertisements feature baker elves, is widely expected to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster IPO market.
Keebler is the second-largest cookie and cracker manufacturer in the United States with annual net sales of over $2 billion. The company markets its products under well- recognized brands, such as Keebler, Cheez-It, Carr's and Ready-Crust.
The shares offered to the public will be sold by Artal Luxembourg S.A. and Bermore, Limited, each of which has been an investor in Keebler.
As part of the share offering, both Artal and Bermore have entered into an agreement to sell a portion of their shares to Flowers Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of baked goods and investor in Keebler since January 1996.
At the completion of the offering, Flowers expects it will increase its stake in Keebler to approximately 57 percent from its current 45 percent investment in the company.
- by staff and wire reports