Shares of grilling company Weber caught fire in their market debut Thursday, closing their first day of trading up almost 18%.
Weber Inc. sold about 17.9 million shares at $14 per share before its stock started trading. That was below what the Palatine, Illinois-based company and selling shareholders had been looking for. They had wanted to sell nearly 47 million shares between $15 and $17 a share.
The stock ended the day up $2.50 at $16.50.
The company plans to use proceeds to pay down debt and for general corporate purposes.
The underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 2.7 million shares.
Weber began in 1952 when George Stephen created a kettle grill following a disastrous experience attempting to cook steaks on a brick fireplace barbecue. Stephen had been working at Weber Brothers Metal Works at the time, welding half spheres together to make buoys.
He decided to use one of the half spheres, put legs on it, punch holes in the bottom for air flow and put a lid on top. That is how the kettle grill was born, according to Weber's website. It has since gone on to create various types of grills and grilling accessories.
The shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the “WEBR” ticker symbol.