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Honest Co. Finishes Sharply Higher  in Stock Market Debut

Jessica Alba's Honest Co. climbs on its first day as a public company.
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Honest Co.  (HNST) , the personal-care brand co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, soared in its market debut Wednesday. 

Shares of the Los Angeles company closed up 43.8% to $23 a share.

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The stock's first trade was $21.22 a share. The initial public offering was priced Tuesday at $16 a share. 

Honest said its shareholders on Tuesday sold just under 26 million shares for $16 each. The IPO price had been estimated in a range of $14 to $17 a share.

Honest offered 6.5 million shares of common stock, while stockholders named in the prospectus offered 19.4 million shares,

The company has a valuation of about $1.45 billion based on the outstanding shares listed in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Bloomberg. 

"We were raising the bar for the entire marketplace and becoming a David to the many Goliaths out there along the way," Alba, who co-founded the company in 2011, said in letter included in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. 

The company said in the filing that its three categories - diapers and wipes, skin and personal care and household and wellness - represented 63%, 26% and 11% of 2020 revenue, respectively. 

Revenue totaled $300.5 million in 2020, up 27.6% from the previous year. The company posted a net loss of $14.5 million in 2020, while adjusted EBITDA came to $11.2 million.

David Trainer, CEO of investment research firm New Constructs, said the IPO was "honestly overvalued," and that the stock is worth no more than $7 a share.

"A valuation at $15 a share implies the company’s profits will be three times greater than Revlon  (REV) ," Trainer said in a research note, "and we think the chances of that happening are very low because the incumbent consumer companies that compete with The Honest Company already own all the shelf space and dominate the industry."

The firm added that offering “clean and sustainable” personal care products is a nice gimmick, "but it is not a big enough business to justify anywhere close to a $1.4 billion valuation.

In 2016, a lawsuit charges that Honest's products contained a harsh chemical it had pledged to avoid. Honest then reached a $7.35 million settlement for wrongly labelling ingredients in some products as natural, plant-based or chemical-free.