Italy's Moleskine fails to sparkle on market debut

Wed Apr 3, 2013 12:27pm EDT
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By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters) - Shares in upmarket notebook maker Moleskine MSK.MI made a lackluster debut in Milan on Wednesday as growth concerns and broad market weakness weighed on this year's first major stock listing in crisis-hit Italy.

The maker of notebooks based on originals used by Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin is the first company to join the main Milan stock market since the listing of cashmere brand Brunello Cucinelli (BCU.MI: Quote) nearly a year ago.

Shares in Moleskine closed 0.9 percent below their issue price at 2.28 euros, though Italy's all-share index .FTITLMS fared worse, losing 2.1 percent.

Moleskine shares had risen nearly 3 percent in early trade from the 2.30 euros price the company had set for its 488 million euro ($626.5 million) initial public offering (IPO).

"They tried to defend it at placement price but eventually gave up and it slipped back," a Milan trader said.

The Milan-based company was valued around 14.5 times its 2012 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a discount to Prada (1913.HK: Quote) and luxury brand Tumi TUMI.N, but in line with brands with strong margins and growth in foreign markets.

Moleskine, which also makes diaries and leather covers for tablet PCs, lacks the exclusive appeal of luxury names such as Prada or Salvatore Ferragamo (1913.HK: Quote), whose shares rose in their stock market debut in 2011.

However, the company says it has revenue growth potential and margins above the luxury sector average.   Continued...