NEW YORK — Shares of Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. more than doubled Thursday in their debut on the Nasdaq, the biggest first-day gain for an IPO in two years.
The natural and organic food store chain raised about $333 million in its initial public offering of stock. About 18.5 million shares priced at $18 each, above the projected price range of $14 to $16 per share. Of those, 17.7 million shares being sold by the company and nearly 800,000 by early investors.
The Phoenix company won't receive any proceeds from shares sold by selling stockholders.
The banks managing the IPO may buy another 2.8 million shares, which would add another $50 million in proceeds.
The chain plans to use the money from the deal to pay down debt and for general corporate purposes.
Sprouts, founded in 2002, runs 163 stores in eight states. It offers natural and organic products in stores that average about 27,500 square feet. The company had 2012 sales of about $2 billion and has the potential to open at least 1,200 more stores under its current format.
It's just the latest food store to become a publicly traded company. In April popular New York grocery store chain Fairway started trading on the Nasdaq. The company is well-known among New York shoppers for offering relatively low prices and cramming its shelves with a wide assortment of groceries. Fairway Group Holdings Corp.'s stock has nearly doubled from its IPO price of $13.
Shares of Sprouts trade under the "SFM" ticker symbol. They closed up $22.11, or 123 percent, at $40.11 Thursday, the biggest first-day gain for an IPO since Qihoo 360 Technology Co.'s debut in March 2011. Qihoo is a Chinese Internet company.