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Empire State Building owner, Potbelly going public

September 27. 2013 5:38PM
Associated Press

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(AP) Starting next week, you could own a piece of the Empire State Building.

Or, if iconic New York skyscrapers aren't your thing, you could bite into Potbelly, a sandwich chain with more than 280 shops.

Next week, these and two more companies with familiar names the owner of budget-friendly clothing store chain Burlington Coat Factory and Re/Max, one of the country's largest real estate agencies are expected to sell shares in initial public offerings.

A surging stock market is drawing investors to IPOs. This past week, 12 companies went public. That's the most in one week since November 2007, said data provider Dealogic. And there have been 151 IPOs in the U.S. this year, up 47 percent from a year ago, said IPO research firm Renaissance Capital.

A more active IPO market signals confidence in the economy, because buying into IPOs is considered a riskier investment than investing in established companies. Companies that raise money in an IPO can also hire more people and make investments with the cash, helping support economic growth. And when IPOs gain in their first day of trading, that bodes well for other companies that may go public soon, such as automaker Chrysler and social media company Twitter.

Investors are closely watching next week's lineup. "Brand recognition will always foster additional attraction," says Scott Sweet, a senior managing partner at IPO Boutique, which rates IPOs and invests in them. But worries about a looming government shutdown could hurt demand for upcoming offerings, warns David Menlow, president of IPO analysis firm

Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the Depression-era building, has had a long road to its public debut. The New York company first filed for an IPO in early 2012, but was set back by shareholder lawsuits. A judge cleared the way for an IPO this spring. Investors may buy the stock just to say they own a piece of the historic building, Sweet said. Millions of tourists each year ascend the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper's heights each year to view the city from its observation deck.

And investors may clamor for shares of Potbelly after the successful IPO of restaurant chain Noodles & Co. It went public at $18 in June and closed Friday at $44.32.

Here are some of the companies expected go public next week:

Burlington Stores Inc., which runs about 500 stores in the U.S., expects to offer 13.3 million shares priced between $14 and $16 each, which would raise up to $213 million. It will trade under the ticker symbol "BURL." Besides the Burlington Coat Factory, the Burlington, N.J.-based company also owns the Cohoes and MJM Designer Shoes stores.

Empire State Realty Trust Inc., the real estate investment trust behind the Empire State Building, also manages other office buildings in the New York City area. It expects to offer 71.5 million shares priced between $13 and $15 each, with the ticker symbol "ESB." It could raise up to $1 billion.

Potbelly Corp., the Chicago-based toasted sandwich chain, expects to offer 7.5 million shares between $9 and $11 each and raise up to $83 million. Its ticker symbol will be ""PBPB."

Re/Max Holdings Inc., a real estate broker based in Denver, expects to offer 10 million shares, at up to $21 each, and raise up to $210 million. They would trade under the symbol "RMAX."

Also on deck for an IPO next week are a methanol producer, OCI Partners LP, seeking to raise as much as $368 million, and a mortgage investment firm, Cherry Hill Mortgage Investment Corp., which hopes to raise about $130 million.

Associated Press

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