Traders put their blue jeans on for Levi's debut

Levi Strauss IPOs at NYSE

Shares of Levi Strauss (NYSE: LEVI) gained more than 30 percent following its initial public offering, and the company isn't merely "riding the denim wave", the company's CEO said Thursday.

The stock, which is listed under the ticker "LEVI", opened for trading Thursday at $22.22, above the $17 offering price and blowing past the originally expected range of $14 to $16. This values the company at 8.7 billion dollars.

Not a bad second IPO for a 166-year-old company that first went public in 1971.

All of that has helped Levi Strauss turn in a 14 per cent increase in sales to $5.6 billion for the year ended November 25, 2018, a big inflection point for the brand.

The Haas family, the descendants of Levi Strauss, will sell a small chunk of their shares and will continue to control the company. "The exchange said that traders will get in the spirit by wearing Levi's denim from head-to-toe", breaking with a longstanding "no jeans allowed" policy.

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In its IPO documents filed with regulators, Levi's said it plans to use proceeds from its IPO to invest further in its business.

Levi does not disclose its earnings in China but Bergh said it makes up around a quarter of its total Asia business, which had just over $800 million in revenue previous year. While its blue jeans and other bottoms make up almost 75 percent of the company's sales, Levi has tried to diversify with products appealing more to female shoppers. Jeans sales appear to be on an upswing in the USA, increasing 2.2 per cent to $16.7 billion last year after four straight years of declines, according to data from Euromonitor.

Founder Levi Strauss moved to San Francisco in 1853 during the California gold rush, opening a dry goods business. "We're here to run the business for the long term".

People walk by a Manhattan Levi's clothing store in New York City.

Bergh said a desire among existing shareholders to diversify, coupled with strong corporate performance and supportive market conditions, led to the decision to go public in 2019. "There was a lot of pent-up demand because it's been pretty slow the last couple of months and that was also probably a tail-wind for us".

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