The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will take its complaints about Canada Goose' (GOOS - Get Report) animal rights policies to the boardroom after the luxury coat maker became a public company on Thursday.
Canada Goose, backed by Bain Capital, saw its first trade at $18 around 10:45 a.m. on the New York Stock Exchange. That was above its IPO offering price at C$14 to C$16 ($10.40 to $11.88) per share. The company is selling 7.149 million shares, while the selling shareholders are offering 12.851 million shares. Shares finished the session at $16.08.
Bain will control about 70% of the company.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen activists for PETA planted their feet in front of the New York Stock Exchange to complain about the company's animal rights policies (see Periscope below). One protester said she believes Canada Goose is a "sad" investment, and expects shares to "tank" as more people learn about Canada Goose's animal rights policies.
PETA, which objects to Canada Goose's use of coyote fur trim and goose down, plans to spend about $4,000 on Canada Goose shares. PETA spokesman Ben Williamson told TheStreet the final amount depends on the ultimate offering price, but PETA will buy the minimum number of shares required to attend Canada Goose's annual general meeting.
Buying shares is "a strategy that's worked in the past," Williamson said, noting that Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) adopted vegan leather for its car interiors "as the result of us asking a question of Elon Musk at its AGM." Similarly, SeaWorld's (SEAS - Get Report) decision to stop breeding orcas prompted PETA, a SeaWorld shareholder, to withdraw a resolution proposing just that.
"Quite often, it brings management to the negotiating table," he said. "They'll ask us to withdraw the resolution in exchange for closed-door meetings, and that has meant real policy changes." PETA has withdrawn shareholder resolutions, in exchange for closed-door meetings, at such companies as Denny's (DENN - Get Report) , Safeway (now owned by Albertsons), McDonald's (MCD - Get Report) , 3M (MMM - Get Report) , DuPont (DD - Get Report) and GE (GE - Get Report) .
The financial performance of PETA's holdings isn't a factor. "We'll sell the shares when we think the progress has been taken for animals," Williamson said. "We recently bought more shares in SeaWorld after the share price collapsed." While the SeaWorld investment was successfulfor PETA, the organization plans to urge SeaWorld to move all its animals to a "coastal seaside sanctuary."
PETA is running several shareholder campaigns at luxury clothing companies. Shortly after unveiling videos of alligator and crocodile farms supplying exotic animal skins, PETA bought shares in Hermes, the owner of the tanneries. PETA representatives also spoke in support of a shareholder resolution at Lululemon (LULU - Get Report) banning down feathers and bought Prada shares to push for the end of ostrich-skin accessories.
While many activists urge divestment from stocks of companies engaging in activities they deem unethical, Williamson said PETA hasn't received any complaints from donors about the strategy, adding that PETA encourages donors and supporters to disclose positions in companies and donate shares if possible.
And according to Canada Goose, "protestors or activists" could easily "adversely affect" its business.
PETA protests Canada Goose IPO. Source: Brian Sozzi
"We have been the target of activists in the past, and may continue to be in the future," Canada Goose said in its S-1. "Our products include certain animal products...which has drawn the attention of animal welfare activists. In addition, protestors can disrupt sales at our stores, or use social media or other campaigns to sway public opinion against our products. If any such activists are successful at either of these, our sales and results of operations may be adversely affected."
So far, Canada Goose has been "unresponsive," Williamson said, adding that The North Face, Timberland and Patagonia have now adopted fur-free policies and offer products with PrimaLoft synthetic insulation instead of down. Patagonia is privately held, while The North Face and Timberland are both owned by VF Corp. (VFC - Get Report) .
"We're hoping to bring them to the negotiating table," he said. "No one wants adversity."
But PETA isn't abandoning its time-honored tactics of public protest. Along with animal rights group DxE, they are planning to protest outside the New York and Toronto exchanges wearing coyote masks on Thursday morning.
Updated from March 15 with new details.