(Arcos Dorados IPO report updated with additional detail.)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Arcos Dorados Holdings (ARCO - Get Report), McDonald's (MCD - Get Report) South American franchisee, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, and the stock gained more than 25% in its first hours.
On Wednesday the McDonald's franchisee priced its IPO of 73.5 million shares at $17 each, above the $13 to $15 originally anticipated, valuing the company at around $1.25 billion.
Arcos Dorados' boisterous opening prompted stake-owning investment groups to unload more shares than initially planned -- about 64 million shares, compared with 50 million. Argentina-based Arcos Dorados is McDonald's largest franchisee by sales and number of locations. As of the end of 2010 it operated 1,755 restaurants in 19 countries, including in its native Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. Arcos Dorados originally planned to to sell around 62.5 million shares in the $13 to $15 range, using around $150 million of the net proceeds for capital expenditures like opening new restaurants and remodeling existing ones, according to early reports in March. In 2010 it grew revenue 14.1% year-over-year to $3.02 billion. Net income soared 32.2% to $106.3 million. Arcos Dorados accounts for around 5% of global dollars spent at McDonald's restaurants.
McDonald's shares traded less than 0.1% lower at $76.85 Thursday morning.