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Natural Grocers Shares Up in IPO

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Shares of Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage were up more than 20% in their first day of trading Wednesday after the organic-product retailer had its stock priced at $15 per share and opened at $18.

The company offered about 7.1 million shares, including about 3.5 million that were offered by previous investors and 3.6 million offered by the company itself. The stock now trades under the symbol NGVC on the New York Stock Exchange. It closed at $17.93.

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In an interview with CNBC Wednesday, Kemper Isely, chief executive officer, Natural Grocers, said the 55-store company is projecting comparable-store sales to be in the “mid-single digits” going forward, and that it is eyeing a 20% compound annual growth rate for new stores in the next five years — including 12 in the next year and between 84 and 100 new stores over a five-year span.

“We thought this was a good time to come to market — an opportune moment,” he told CNBC.

Asked about the spending capability of consumers in the weak economy, he said the company has seen positive indications in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, and added that “awareness of organic foods and natural foods is increasing, and [consumers] will continue to realize the advantage that natural and organic foods give them in their diet.”

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