By Ari Levy
Toast shares soared 56% in their New York Stock Exchange debut Wednesday after the provider of technology to restaurants priced its IPO above its expected range.
The company, whose products are used at more than 48,000 restaurant locations, raised about $870 million in its IPO, selling shares at $40 each. Toast previously said it expected to price the offering at $34 to $36, following an initial range of $30 to $33.
Toast’s IPO comes amid a business resurgence for a company that was devastated in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when restaurants were forced to close their doors and cities across the country shut down. In April 2020, Toast slashed half its workforce, and CEO Chris Comparato wrote in a blog post that the prior month, “as a result of necessary social distancing and government-mandated closures, restaurant sales declined by 80 percent in most cities.”
Sales rebounded rapidly as eateries shifted to takeout and contactless ordering and eventually opened up to outside dining. Toast initially gave a one-month credit of software fees to its customers and provided free access to its technology that enabled takeout, online ordering and gift card purchases. By the third quarter, revenue was back on the upswing and was even higher than a year earlier, before the pandemic.
While investors are cheering Toast’s growth, concerns remain about the restaurant industry, particularly as the fast-spreading delta variant continues to rip through large swaths of the country. Comparato told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Wednesday that he’s optimistic about where restaurants go from here.
“When we look at the delta variant and Covid in general, we feel the industry has been battle tested with the Covid pandemic,” Comparato said. “While delta may dampen things, this industry is in recovery and we couldn’t be more excited to lead the charge ahead as the industry recovers and restaurants start to thrive again.”