Apparel retailer BodyCentral went public in October. It trades close to its IPO closing price of $13 a share.
Until last fall, when RailAmerica went public in a $300-million offering, no Jacksonville company had made an initial public offering since 2005. But suddenly, the city is an IPO hot spot. Four Jacksonville companies filed for public offerings this year, including EverBank, which also raised its profile recently by putting its name on the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium.
Fast-growing EverBank, which began as an internet bank, has 14 offices in Florida, $11.2 billion in assets and $9 billion in deposits — a 59% jump in deposits from a year ago. It filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October to sell up to $200 million worth of stock.
A week before EverBank's filing, Fortegra Financial, formerly known as Life of the South Corp., filed with the SEC to sell up to $125 million in stock. The 20-year-old Jacksonville firm provides distribution, administrative services and other products to insurance companies, brokers and other financial companies.
EverBank and Fortegra have not released additional details on their IPO plans. While they were filing, another Jacksonville company, Body Central Corp., began selling shares. Its October IPO sold below the apparel retailer's hoped-for offering of $14 to $16 a share. But the stock has held steady at $13 to $14 since its launch.
A fourth Jacksonville-based company, Arizona Chemical, filed to go public in April but later announced an agreement to sell controlling interest to private equity firm American Securities instead.
The vigorous activity in Jacksonville tracks the national trend. University of Florida finance professor Jay Ritter, who tracks IPO activity, says well over 100 U.S. companies will go public this year. That's almost as high as each year between 2004 and 2007, and much higher than the depressed IPO markets of 2008-09, which saw fewer than one IPO per week.