Outback parent company's stock blooms after IPO

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By MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Bloomin' Brands, which operates Outback Steakhouse and other restaurant chains, are proving a tasty treat for investors, though only after the portion size was reduced.

Shares rose $1.41, or 12.8 percent to close at $12.42 on Wednesday in the stock's first trading day on the Nasdaq.

The positive reaction from investors is a good sign for other IPOs expected this week. But it comes only after the company reduced its offering price and cut the number of shares that selling shareholders were offering, a sign that companies should keep expectations muted about how much cash they'll reap by going public.

"It was really downsized in both size and price so it would be an easily digestible offering for individual investors," said Sam Hamadeh, CEO of PrivCo, a research firm that follows privately held companies.

Bloomin' Brands IPO was the biggest market debut since Facebook's disappointing entry in May chilled the market. Other companies scheduled to go public later this week include Carl's Jr. owner CKE Inc. and British soccer club Manchester United. The timing of the IPOs coincides with the final week before many on Wall Street go on break until after Labor Day. Because of that, most IPOs this week are tailored to the individual, rather than institutional, investor.

Late Tuesday, the Tampa, Fla.-based Bloomin' Brands priced its initial public offering of 16 million shares at $11 per share, below the $13 to $15 per share expected, for gross proceeds of $176 million. Other selling stockholders offered 3 million additional shares. And underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 2.4 million shares, half from Bloomin' Brands and half from selling shareholders. Originally, Bloomin' Brands and selling shareholders each planned to sell 10.7 million shares, for a total of about 21 million.

The company said it plans to use proceeds to pay down debt and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Bloomin' Brands' other chains include Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill. It operates more than 1,400 restaurants in 48 states and 20 countries. Its name comes from a signature dish at Outback Steakhouse, an onion carved to resemble a flower that is then deep fried.

The stock is trading under the ticker "BLMN" on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

The company, which used to be called OSI Restaurant Partners, was public until 2007, when private equity firms Bain Capital Partners and Catterton Management Co. bought it for $41.15 a share in cash in a deal worth $3.24 billion. The trading price at midday Wednesday gives Bloomin' a market capitalization of about $1.5 billion.

The positive results for Bloomin' Brands could bode well for CKE Inc., which begins trading on Friday. The owner of fast-food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's first went public in 1981. In 2010, private-equity firm Apollo Management bought it and took it private.

CKE has said it expects to price its offering at $14 and $16 each and hopes to raise an estimated $100 million.

This time around it plans to list under the ticker "CK" on the New York Stock Exchange.

The offerings cap a summer IPO season that got off to a slow start because of the fallout from Facebook's disappointing market debut.

Facebook shares began trading publicly on May 18 at the top of their projected IPO range, but ended up closing barely above their IPO price at $38.23 and have fallen sharply since then. They closed Wednesday at $20.72, down 45 percent from their IPO price.

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