Beauty or brawn? Even in the hard-headed world of Wall Street, the chips are on beauty. Or so it seemed yesterday when stock market debutant Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. wrestled World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc.--also a Street first-timer--off the floor for investor dollars.
Shares of Martha Stewart--a lifestyle company that sold stock in itself to the public for the first time yesterday--nearly tripled on the first day of trading at the New York Stock Exchange. Priced for sale at $18 on Monday, the stock opened at $37.25 yesterday and quickly rose to a high of $52 before finishing the day at $35.56 1/4.
In contrast, the WWFE stock--priced at $17--opened at $30.50 on Nasdaq, but did not cross the $35 mark. It closed yesterday at $25.25.
The two initial public offerings were eagerly awaited by Wall Street, since both the companies are leaders in their respective entertainment categories and have strong brand names.
Martha Stewart--which offered 7.2 million shares for sale--is a popular multimedia company with interests in publishing, television, merchandising and e-commerce. It built a franchise on the homemaking tips of a celebrity whose perfectionism has struck a cord with the baby boom generation.
WWFE--which put up 10 million shares for sale--runs the stage-managed wrestling shows, besides weekly cable shows. WWFE plans to use the proceeds for working capital needs and other business purposes.
Martha Stewart intends to use the IPO proceeds to buy back shares held by Time Publishing Ventures Inc. and for business development.
CAPTION: New York Stock Exchange President William Johnson with Martha Stewart outside the exchange yesterday.