Glossy color photos of bathing beauties having fun in the sun attracted a new group to Club Med last month: investors.
The first few pages of the unusual prospectus describing the company and its initial domestic public stock offering were filled with pictures of sun worshippers on beautiful beaches, skiers on snowy mountain peaks, and scuba divers examining coral reefs at the bottom of the sea. And amidst a quiet market for new public stock offerings this fall, investors responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to buy Club Med's shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
The lackluster performance of many technology companies that recently went public provided the perfect opportunity for a "low-tech, life-style stock" such as Club Med that investors understand, according to investment bankers at Lehman Brothers, who managed the offering.
Club Med was last month's biggest new issue, raising $51 million through the sale of 3 million shares to the public at $17 each on Sept. 25, and rose a bit before closing yesterday at 17 1/8, down 1/8.
The stock sold to the public represents about 22 percent of the company, with most of the remaining 78 percent retained by Club Mediterranee S. A., its French parent. The company and its investment advisers will decide today whether to sell an additional 400,000 shares of stock to the public.
Club Med will use most of the proceeds from last month's offering to repay approximately $26.2 million of debt due between 1985 and 1992, and to finance its ambitious plans for growth.
In contrast to a traditional hotel chain, the company's marketing thrust has been to emphasize the Club Med vacation concept rather than particular villages or locations. As a result, the company believes its clients choose to vacation at a "Club Med village" as opposed to a specific location or hotel.
One new strategy the company is using to drum up corporate business is the renting of an entire Club Med village to a company for a week. Jeffrey L. Balash, a Lehman Brothers managing director, said the program, still in its infancy, has been successful.
The company operates 16 resorts and manages another four in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia, the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean Basin. Its parent, Club Med S. A., operates more than 70 additional resorts and has sales activities in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
The company has doubled the number of beds for available guests since 1979, from 4,848 to 9,602, primarily by opening nine new resorts in seven countries.
Last year, the company had revenue of $211.5 million and net income of $9.7 million. During the first half of this year, Club Med earned $12.5 million, versus $11.3 million during the first half of 1983. Traditionally the company loses money during the summer season.
Club Med's was the kind of offering investment bankers love, because part of their duty as advisers is visiting the operations of companies they serve.
"We went to the club on Paradise Island," Lehman's Balash said, "but it was difficult to insist that we visit all the locations."