Top dog: Shares of online pet store Chewy soar in debut

Business
Frankie

Local dog Frankie poses for photos outside the New York Stock Exchange, decorated for the Chewy IPO, Friday, June 14, 2019. Chewy, the online seller of pet food and squeaky toys, went public Friday and its shares soared 71%. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — It was raining cats and dogs on Wall Street.

Chewy, the online seller of pet food and squeaky toys, made a strong showing in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, with investors banking on the growing pet industry.

Its shares soared 59% Friday under the symbol “CHWY,” putting the company’s market value at about $14 billion.

Chewy may bring to mind the failed online pet stores of the 1990s. For starters, it has never made a profit. Last year, it lost $267.9 million on revenue of $3.53 billion.

But a lot has changed since the days of Pets.com. People are accustomed to buying nearly anything online. And pets are more pampered: Americans spent $72.6 billion on their furry friends last year, more than triple the amount spent two decades ago, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Founded in 2011, Chewy and was bought six years later by pet store chain PetSmart for more than $3 billion. Even after the initial public offering, PetSmart is Chewy’s largest shareholder.

The company, based in Dania Beach, Florida, says most of its sales come from shoppers who have signed up for automatic shipments of their pet supplies. That gives Chewy a steady stream of revenue and additional time to plan shipments from its seven warehouses around the country.

To grow, Chewy plans to create more in-house pet food brands, expand its year-old animal pharmacy and venture beyond the U.S.

Despite its losses, demand for Chewy’s IPO was high. It raised just over $1 billion, with 46.5 million shares sold at $22 each. That was above the stock price the company had expected to fetch.

Shares closed at $34.99 Friday after rising as high as $41.34 during the day.

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