UPDATE 2-Retailer Party City seeks $2 bln valuation in IPO

Mon Apr 6, 2015 1:50pm EDT
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* IPO expected to raise up to $372 mln

* Offering of 21.9 mln shares at $15-$17/shr

* To list on the New York Stock Exchange (Adds analyst comment, details, industry background)

By Neha Dimri

April 6 (Reuters) - Party City Holdco Inc, the largest U.S. party goods retailer, is expected to be valued at nearly $2 billion in its initial public offering, the first by a U.S. retailer this year.

The company, backed by buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, operates 900 party superstores in the United States and Canada that sell party supplies including paper and plastic tableware, metallic and latex balloons and gifts for everyday.

Specialty retailers are successfully competing with online retailers because of the in-store experience they offer, said Jay Ritter, a professor and IPO expert at the University of Florida.

People prefer to shop at a specialty store like Party City mostly because it offers products with unique party themes, which can be tailor-made for an event, Ritter said.

Party City reported an 11 percent rise in revenue to about $2.27 billion for the year ended Dec. 31. Net income jumped to $56.1 million from $4.2 million, a year earlier.   Continued...