SAN FRANCISCO — Educational toy maker LeapFrog Enterprise Inc. jumped into the turbulent stock market Wednesday with an initial public offering at $13 per share.
The IPO, priced at the low end of the company’s targeted range of $13 to $16 per share, raised $111.9 million before expenses.
LeapFrog sold 8.61 million shares and stockholders sold another 390,000 shares. The Emeryville-based company is best known for a hot-selling high-tech toy called LeapPad that helps teach preschool children how to read.
The offering delivered another windfall for two of the country’s wealthiest and most provocative businessmen — software mogul Larry Ellison and fallen financier Michael Milken.
Ellison, Oracle Corp.’s flamboyant chief executive officer, and Milken, convicted of securities fraud in perhaps the biggest stock market scandal of the 1980s, control 82.8 percent of LeapFrog’s voting stock through a limited liability corporation called Knowledge Universe.
The two men own Knowledge Universe with Milken’s brother Lowell, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Knowledge Universe’s 33.2 million shares of LeapFrog stock were worth $431.6 million after Wednesday’s IPO. The company’s shares are expected to begin trading Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “LF.”
LeapFrog forged ahead with its IPO amid dicey market conditions that scared away several other companies.
All four of the other companies that had planned to go public this week indefinitely postponed their offerings until the market settles down, according to Kyle Huske, an analyst with IPO.com
Theater chain Cinemark and airline Republic Airways were among the companies to delay their IPOs, Huske said.
LeapFrog’s unique blend of rapid revenue growth and a recent history of profits apparently helped reassure investors in the jittery market.
Bolstered by the success of its LeapPad reading tool, the company’s sales have soared from $71.9 million in 1999 to $313.2 million last year. After several years of losses, LeapFrog posted a $9.7 million profit last year, according to its SEC filings.
The company’s LeapPad product line accounted for 54 percent of LeapFrog’s 2001 sales. The company made 78 percent of its sales through four retailers — Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Kmart and Target.
LeapFrog has written off $6.4 million of the $11 million that bankrupt Kmart owes the company, according to SEC documents.
LeapFrog’s sales through the first half of the year continued to grow at a rapid rate, based on preliminary data that LeapFrog included in its most recent SEC filing.
Through June 30, the company estimated its revenue this year at $100.9 million, more than doubling its sales of $48.3 million at the same time last year. LeapFrog estimated it lost $12.5 million during the first half of this year, down from a $15.9 million loss at the same time last year.
Like most toy makers, LeapFrog generates most of its sales and virtually all of its profit during the final half of the year.
LeapFrog CEO Michael Wood, a former lawyer specializing in venture capital, founded the company in 1995 after he became frustrated with the lack of educational toys for his son, then a preschooler.
In 1997, Wood sold the company to Knowledge Universe, which turned the CEO duties over to Thomas Kalinske, who had run video game maker Sega of America for six years. Kalinske relinquished LeapFrog’s CEO duties to Wood four months ago, but remains the company’s chairman.