Fender seeks $200m in IPO

Now this takes me back to my last ‘day job,’ which was finance journalist (believe it or not).


Fender Musical Instruments Corp is looking to raise $200 million via an initial public stock offering. (Go here for the full S-1 form). The company plans to use half of the funds to help pay down $246.2 million in debt, and may also use some of the proceeds to acquire other businesses, products or technologies, although no agreements or commitments for any specific acquisitions exist at this time. MSN has a great article about what this means for Fender, who is also leveraging its brand identity via more aggressive licensing including co-branding deals with Apple and Hard Rock Cafe International, concluding, “So in light of its global brands — as well as growth opportunities — Fender should continue to be a top-notch player in the music business. Expect investors to line up for the IPO when it hits the market within a couple of months.”


For the year to January 2, 2012, Fender’s net sales increased 13% to $700.6 million, up from $617.8 million a year earlier and $612.5 million the year before that. Operating income dropped from $29.8 million to $12 million between January 3, 2010 and January 2, 2011, but jumped to $41.8 million for the most recent year. The company reported a $17.2 million loss for the year to January 2, 2011 but achieved a net profit of $3.2 million for its most recent financial year. Adjusted EBITDA was $43.7 million for fiscal 2009, $22.8 million for 2010 and $52.9 million for 2011.


It’s interesting to note that in the second quarter of fiscal 2010, Fender’s main paint supplier shut down due to financial difficulty, forcing a halt to production at Corona, California for four months, with full production not resuming for a further three months. This led to a production backlog which ultimately resulted in significantly lower net sales and incomes from operations in fiscal 2010, but higher sales in the first and second quarters of fiscal 2011 as the company filled the backlog. Fender has since increased focus on developing second sources of supply where feasible.


Another particularly interesting item in the S-1 filing is that in fiscal 2012 the company plans to create a specialty sales force in North America to focus on selling non-Fender branded instruments and accessories. Personally I’d love to see some of this extra muscle applied to promoting the Hamer brand, which I see as being able to fill a niche that isn’t quite being picked up by the Fender, Jackson or Charvel brands. The company continues to invest in its Corona (California) and Ensenada (Mexico) facilities to drive higher overall gross margins going forward, and I think the Vistior Center at the Corona facility is a great example of this, from an outreach/public relations perspective at the very least.


Fender has not yet announced exactly how many shares it plans to offer in the IPO, nor the offer date.