(Reuters) – Shares of CBS Outdoor Americas Inc rose as much as 9 percent in their trading debut, valuing the company carved out of broadcaster CBS Corp at $3.66 billion as it steps up its efforts to grab more advertising dollars for its billboards.
CBS Outdoor’s shares touched a high of $30.46 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday after its initial public offering was priced at $28 per share, the top end of the expected price range.
The company’s top executive said on Thursday he aims to convince big advertisers to move more spending to his company’s billboards and other displays.
U.S. outdoor media represents less than 5 percent share of advertising dollars, while in rest of the world that number is 8 percent, CBS Outdoor CEO Jeremy Male said in an interview.
“The top 50 advertisers only spend 2 percent of revenue on outdoor,” said Male, who joined the company in September after serving as a top executive at JCDecaux SA (JCDX.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the world’s largest outdoor company.
“We see a great opportunity to work hard and develop that advertiser base,” he said.
The company counts Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) among its clients.
CBS Outdoor’s strong debut comes two days after the disappointing debut of “Candy Crush Saga” maker King Digital Entertainment Plc (KING.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). King’s stock fell as much as 16 percent in its debut and has since stayed below its listing price of $22.50.
The King debut indicates that the investing world may be returning to more normal rules, including sharper assessments of the risk in different sectors, now that the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying stimulus program is being reduced and there is less “easy money” going around.
“What the King IPO did is bring back some sanity in how offerings are priced. What investors like are big established companies with high barriers to entry,” said Francis Gaskins, research director at Equities.com.
“While CBS Outdoor isn’t as interesting as King, it is a stable company.”
CBS Outdoor’s offering, which raised $560 million, reduced CBS Corp’s stake in CBS Outdoor to 83 percent. Its holding will drop to about 81 percent if underwriters fully exercise their option to buy additional shares.
CBS Corp, the most-watched TV network in the United States, plans to divest its shares through a tax-free splitoff later this year, after which CBS Outdoor will trade as a real estate investment trust (REIT).
That will allow CBS Outdoor to avoid paying corporate-level income taxes if it distributes at least 90 percent of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends.
Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are lead underwriters of the offering.
The move to spin off the outdoor unit is part of CBS’s plan to stake its future on content.
“This seemed like a very good financial idea to do a transaction that would unlock the value in CBS Outdoor,” CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves said on Thursday. “It enables us to get quite a bit of capital to go forward with our desire to increase our profile in the content business.”
CBS has been selling shows to subscription video on-demand services such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Hulu Plus.
CBS Outdoor has about 329,100 displays in the United States – many in desirable locations such as the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and Grand Central Station in New York – and about 26,100 displays across Canada and Latin America.
Male said CBS Outdoor would invest to make more of its displays digital. About 1.5 percent are in digital format now.
Outdoor advertising companies have been converting their traditional billboards to digital billboards as this allows them to run multiple ads on each display.
“If you are looking for cover and frequency on a particular demographic, people’s travel patterns are repetitive,” Male said. “It’s a great argument for greater efficiency for advertising dollars.”
CBS Outdoor’s competitors include Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc (CCO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Lamar Advertising Co (LAMR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
CBS Outdoor reported revenue of $1.3 billion and net income of $143.5 million for 2013. The company had about 19,700 clients in the United States at the end of the year.
CBS Outdoor’s shares were up 7 percent at $29.96 in morning trading.
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