While most of this year’s hottest IPOs have come from companies founded in the last decade, 170-year-old Dole proves it’s never too late to go public. This public debut isn’t even Dole’s first — the fruit and vegetable company previously went public in 2009, but was privatized in 2013.
Dole is seeking a $559 million IPO which would value it at $1.7 billion, according to its S-1 filing. Dole slashed its share price from between $20 and $23 to $16 and $17 the night before its Wednesday debut, but increased the number of shares. Investors still expect the stock to do well, especially since most food and beverage companies tend to perform consistently, even if they grow slowly.
Dole, as it exists today, is less than a year old. Dole merged with Ireland’s Total Produce earlier this year, one of the factors that led to the IPO. The merger also meant the departure of 98-year-old billionaire owner David Murdock, who had been running the company on and off since the 1980s. Murdock, a high school dropout and former homeless Army veteran, was responsible for privatizing Dole by buying up its remaining shares. In 2017, Dole filed to go public again while flirting with being bought by private equity firms, two plans that eventually fell through.
Samuel Northrup Castle and Amos Starr Cooke founded the company in 1851, though the “Dole” namesake didn’t come into play for another century. James Dole founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901 to take advantage of the recent annexation of Hawaii, which made agricultural imports tariff-free. Castle & Cooke purchased a 21% interest in the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1932, and 30 years later bought the remainder of the company. After a couple of other acquisitions, the conglomerate was dubbed Dole Fresh Vegetables in 1989.
Today, the Dublin-based company owns over 100,000 acres of land, has plants in several countries including the Philippines, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, and sells produce in 80 countries. Dole has been steadily growing for most of its history.
According to our data, Dole’s LinkedIn employee headcount has steadily increased to 3,190, though its worldwide workforce numbers 40,000 employees in 29 countries. The current headcount represents a 10.6% increase since this time last year. Although it’s a slow growth company, Dole is expected to perform well in its debut.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.