Shares of Buffett-backed Snowflake soar in NYSE debut

Warren Buffett-backed Snowflake’s shares more than doubled in value in a volatile debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, after the cloud-based data warehouse company raised $3.36 billion in the largest US listing so far in 2020.

Shares of the San Francisco-based company opened at $245 apiece, but the trading was briefly halted. As it resumed, the shares surged as much as 166 percent to hit a session-high of $319. The company’s initial public offering price was $120, which was well above the offer range of $100 to $110. It had on Tuesday raised $3.36 billion selling 28 million shares in the biggest software IPO of all time.

An opening pop of this magnitude is rare for a big IPO.

Experts said the scope to price the IPO higher was limited for investment bankers as Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway and venture capital firm Salesforce Ventures bought $250 million worth of shares at $105 apiece earlier this month.

The debut marks a big win for Buffett, who rarely invests in IPOs and whose Berkshire Hathaway made over $1 billion on Snowflake’s listing.

“The fact that Salesforce and Berkshire Hathaway were both in the offering on a private placement added even more, fuel to the fire,” said Jeff Zell, senior research analyst and partner at IPO tracking firm IPO Boutique.

“The IPO was well endorsed by Buffett and he rarely subscribes to an IPO.” Snowflake posted a 173.7 percent jump in revenue to $264.7 million for the fiscal year ended January compared with a year earlier.

The blockbuster opening comes in the middle of a massive boom in US capital markets following a rebound in demand for new listings, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to put off their plans to go public earlier this year.

Prior to Snowflake, Royalty Pharma and Warner Music Group had the biggest stock market debuts this year.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Allen & Co and Citigroup were the lead underwriters for the IPO.

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