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After operating as a private company for the past six years, Dole Food Co. in Westlake Village, CA, went public once again Friday, Oct. 23, with an initial public offering of 35.7 million shares at $12.50 per share.

The offering was designed to raise almost $450 million in capital for the well-known food company.

Shortly before the stock market's closing bell of 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, the shares were trading at about $12.30, representing a 1.5 percent decline in the first day of trading. After early trading drove the price below the initial IPO, market analysts were quoted as saying that the firm's large debt had driven the price down. Dole reportedly has a debt load of $2 billion and will use the funds raised from the IPO to pay down that debt.

Dole was rescued from bankruptcy by billionaire David Murdock in the late 1980s, and as chairman of the board in 2003, he took the company private.

In 2008, Dole registered almost a 12 percent increase in sales, to $7.6 billion. Profits also rose significantly from a $54 million loss in 2007 to a $123 million profit in 2008.