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Ingram Shares Make Solid Gains in Initial Trading

November 02, 1996|GREG MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ingram Micro Inc., the world's largest computer products distributor, performed in typically solid fashion Friday as the company's stock jumped more than 10% in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares of the Santa Ana-based company, initially priced at $18, surged as high as $23.625 before retreating to close at $20.50, giving the company a market value of more than $3 billion. The stock was the second-most active of the day on the exchange, with 12.3 million shares changing hands. There were 20 million shares in the offering.

The company itself collected about $360 million to help pay off debt as it resumes building its computer products distribution empire, already the largest in the world.

Ingram's stock did not soar to dizzying heights on the first trading day the way many Internet and other technology-related issues have in recent years. But analysts said that was a sign that the stock was appropriately priced by the company's underwriters, including Morgan Stanley & Co.

The offering capped a tumultuous year for Ingram, a company accustomed to smooth operations and few distractions. After a dispute that apparently revolved around some of the terms of the offering, Ingram's longtime chief executive resigned abruptly in May. The offering was further delayed as the company awaited a tax ruling from the Internal Revenue Service.

"It's been a long year and a lot of work, and it's nice to have all that behind us," said Jeffrey Rodek, president and chief operating officer. "One of the great things about today is . . . to get back to growing this great company."

For Ingram, which reported a profit of $84.3 million on sales of $8.6 billion last year, Friday was a day of celebration and relief.

In New York, Martha Ingram, whose Tennessee family still owns most of Ingram's shares, and other top company executives had breakfast with the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange before trading began.

Later at company headquarters, Chief Executive Jerre Stead mingled with employees in the Ingram parking lot, where other executives served barbecued chicken and burgers to workers who, through stock options, also stand to benefit now that the stock is publicly traded.

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