Berkeley organic food company Annie’s opens up 64% in IPO

That’s one high-hopping bunny: Shares of Berkeley-based Annie’s Inc. are up more than 70% a few hours after the organic food company’s public debut.

Trading under the BNNY ticker symbol -- a reference to its rabbit logo -- Annie’s stock is currently at $32.85 a share. It opened at $31.11 a share -- a 63.7% spike after being priced late Tuesday at $19 a share.

That’s after the macaroni-and-cheese maker set a target range of $16 to $18 a share, itself a boost from an original range of $14 to $16.

Of the 5 million shares sold on the New York Stock Exchange, Annie’s offered up 950,000 and stockholders sold 4,050,000, with the option of also releasing an additional 750,000 shares if demand stays steady.


Annie’s said it expects net proceeds of $11.6 million from the IPO.

The company, which is majority-owned by private equity firm Solera Capital, was founded in 1989 by Annie Withey. It also makes graham crackers, frozen pizzas, fruit snacks and more, distinguishing its products from most packaged foods by leaving out artificial flavors, synthetic colors and preservatives.

The items are available on shelves across the country, including at retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Safeway.

In the nine months that ended Dec. 31, Annie’s saw revenue increase 21% to $98 million. Although the company said income taxes nearly halved net profit to $7.7 million, gross profit jumped 25% to $60 million.

Other purveyors of natural, organic foods have benefited from the same ravenous investor appetite that’s buoying Annie’s.

Whole Foods Market’s stock closed Tuesday at $84.14 a share, up more than 370% from its $17.81-a-share price from three years ago. United Natural Foods has seen a similar jump, closing Tuesday at $47.25, up more than 150% from $18.69 on March 27, 2009.


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