May 21, 2020 / 3:58 PM / 6 days ago

SelectQuote shares surge over 40% in U.S. market debut

(Reuters) - Shares of SelectQuote Inc SLQT.N jumped more than 40% in their stock market debut on Thursday, giving the insurance policy comparison website a market valuation of over $4 billion.

The company’s stellar offering is the latest sign of thawing in the initial public offering (IPO) market, which was shut to most companies when the coronavirus outbreak fueled weeks of stock market volatility in March and April.

In an interview with Reuters, SelectQuote Chief Executive Officer Timothy Danker said he was bullish on demand for the company’s core product in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced more people to buy insurance online.

“Consumers don’t want folks in their house selling insurance, they’d rather do research online and connect telephonically and we view that as a trend moving forward,” Danker said.

SelectQuote allows customers to compare policies for life, auto and home insurance from providers including American International Group (AIG.N), Prudential Financial Inc (PRU.N) and Liberty Mutual.

Its public offering comes at a time when only a handful of biotechnology and blank-check companies went ahead with IPOs during this period.

“These days, investors are more interested in boring CEOs and predictable profits.” said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“Buyers remain wary, but SelectQuote is a rare IPO from a company that already is profitable instead of burning hundreds of millions hoping to someday turn a profit in an industry in which nobody has made a profit.” he added.

SelectQuote’s revenue jumped nearly 50% to $390.1 million for the nine months ended March 2020, while net income was up 2.4% to $61.1 million.

The company on Wednesday raised $360 million after it sold 18 million shares as planned, and existing shareholders sold 10.5 million shares.

The shares were priced at $20 each, above the marketed range of $17 to $19.

Reporting by Abhishek Manikandan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Anirban Sen and Anil D'Silva

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