Levi Strauss shares soar 30% in IPO
New York (CNN Business)Levi Strauss surged more than 30% during its public debut Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.
At an early trading price of $22.97 a share, the 166-year old company is valued at about $8.9 billion.
Traders at the NYSE were allowed to wear jeans to commemorate the occasion. There is usually a strict dress code that prohibits jeans on the floor of the exchange.
Levi Strauss has returned to life as a publicly traded company after an absence that lasted more than 30 years. The company was publicly traded in the 1970s and early 1980s, but went private in 1985.
It could be the first of many well-known, brand name companies to go public this year. But unlike Lyft (, Uber and many other ballyhooed Silicon Valley startups, Levi Strauss is profitable. )
It reported earnings last year of $285.2 million, a slight increase from 2017. Sales rose 14% in 2018 to nearly $5.6 billion.
But while Levi Strauss is a household name in America, it has struggled to catch on in some emerging markets.
The company is hoping to expand in China and Brazil, which accounted for less than 4% of total sales last year.
It is doing well in India, though. Levi Strauss opened a store there in December 2017, and followed up with an e-commerce site in January 2018.