Planet Fitness began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday Photo courtesy Planet FItness

Planet Fitness began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Planet FItness.)

Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau Calls IPO Experience Epic, Emotional

Planet Fitness closed its first day on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol 'PLNT' at $16 per share.

Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau was not alone on the New York Stock Exchange floor Thursday morning.

He was joined by nearly 30 franchisees, several corporate employees and family members in the Newington, New Hampshire, company's public trading debut that raised $216 million.

"An 'out of body' experience is the only way to put it in perspective," Rondeau told Club Industry. "To be in such an epic event for a company you helped build to this point is pretty emotional, really."

Planet Fitness closed its first day under the symbol 'PLNT' at $16 per share.  The initial public offering price (IPO) at $16 per share for the 13.5 million shares was at the top of the expected $14 to $16 range. Shares opened at $14.50 and tumbled in early trading to $13.75 before rallying to hit a daily high of $16.18.

Rondeau made rounds with journalists spreading the message of the Planet Fitness brand on Thursday. He talked about the brand standing for people who can feel comfortable in gyms without intimidation, for membership affordability and for exposing "everyone" to wellness.

With a base membership of $10, Planet Fitness has over 7.1 million members in over 1,000 clubs and agreements in place to open 1,000 more clubs. Rondeau expects 500 clubs will be built in the next three years.

Rondeau said Planet Fitness' franchise system gives the company two sets of customers: franchisees and members.

"With our franchisees we provide a model to create wealth, and for our members we have a model that provides health," Rondeau said. "It's an exciting time for the company. Being listed on the NYSE is an amazing feat in itself. I think it brings great notoriety for the brand today and in the future."

Some analysts have expressed concern for investors interested in Planet Fitness, including Gregory Sichenzia, founder of the New York securities law firm Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference.

“It (Planet Fitness) appeals to a much broader base,” Sichenzia told Bloomberg News. “Their prospects are unlimited at this point. There aren’t a lot of negative things, other than the debt ($500 million), that people are saying about this company.”

Brian Hamilton, the chairman of data company Sageworks, said there may be an "enhanced appetite" on Wall Street for fitness-related offerings in the wake of Fitbit's successful IPO.

"Planet Fitness is a company with strong fundamentals seeking a fairly reasonable valuation," Hamilton said. "After pricing at $16 per share, the company is valued at roughly $1.6 billion, or six times trailing revenues and 42 times trailing earnings; this is slightly rich for a company operating in their sector.  However, they've also been profitable for the last two years, and they are seeing net income and revenues increase year-over-year."

Planet Fitness reported $279.8 million in revenue in 2014, up from $211 million in 2013.

"All cylinders are firing, and it's just the right time (to go public) and the next milestone for the company," Rondeau said.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Jefferies Group LLC, and Credit Suisse Group AG managed the IPO. TSG Consumer Partners, which acquired a stake in the company in 2013, offered 4.4 million of the shares.

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