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Investors Hungry For Potbelly IPO

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Potbelly's initial public offering expected Friday morning is rumored to be oversubscribed from investors eager to take a bite into the strong performing category of fast-casual restaurants this year, but don't expect other popular sandwich shops to follow suit in the near future.

"We're past the point of really having any significant capital needs," said Don Fox, CEO of Firehouse Subs of Jacksonville, Fla.

"The owners love what they are doing. They're still very engaged in the business. There's no reason from a personal or business standpoint to make that kind of effort and there are negatives to becoming a public company that can affect performance," said Fox of the 670-location sandwich chain. "And frankly that public environment would not be in aligned with the way we conduct business," Fox added, referring specifically to short-term decisions for shareholder gain as opposed to long-term decision-making.

Only 28 of Firehouse Subs' locations are corporately owned. That's a significant and important difference between Potbelly and others like Firehouse Subs.

Unlike many of its sandwich-shop competitors, Potbelly is choosing to expand in the hot, fast-casual restaurant industry through corporate-owned locations as opposed to franchising. Potbelly said it does plan to do some franchising.

Potbelly plans to raise roughly $94 million from the IPO, the Chicago-based sandwich shop said in an updated S-1 registration filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. It will sell 7.5 million common shares -- split between 146,442 shares sold by existing stockholders and the rest from the company. (It also has an overallotment of up to 1.2 million shares to sell to the underwriters). Potbelly is listing under the ticker symbol PBPB on the Nasdaq.

Banking on the strong IPO market this year, Potbelly on Wednesday upped the offering price to between $12 and $13 a share from the original pricing of $9 to $11 a share, according to the filing.

But it plans to use roughly 60% of the proceeds it receives and immediately return those to shareholders in the form of a cash dividend. Using the midpoint range of $12.50 a share, the company expects to receive net proceeds of $83.9 million, $49.9 million of which be used to pay a cash dividend on common and preferred stock, Potbelly said in the filing.
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