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Shopify shares soar on first day of trading after initial public offering

TORONTO – Investors flocked to Shopify Inc.’s stock market debut on Thursday, sending the company’s shares soaring.

The Ottawa-based e-commerce company’s IPO at US$17 per share raised US$131 million, more than the company expected.

Shopify (TSX:SH) offered its shares on both the TSX and the New York Stock Exchanges in a dual IPO. Its shares opened in New York at US$28 and reached a high of US$28.74 before closing at US$25.68.

The stock closed at C$31.25 on the Toronto Stock Exchange after trading for as much as C$35.03.

The company allows anyone to sell products via the Internet. It helps small and medium-sized business with cloud-based software to design, build, and manage sales across the web, mobile applications, and brick-and-mortar stores.

Ben Dickie, senior analyst with InfoTech Research Group, said the company was attractive for investors because of its presence in the “hot space” of mobile payments.

It’s common for tech stocks to start with a high valuation and retreat as investors get a better picture of demand, Dickie said.

“After that initial enthusiasm around a stock, usually there is a correction as the day is happening,” he said. “I don’t see that necessarily as worrying or indicative of larger problems with the stock at this point.”

Unlike other tech companies that have listed on the stock market such as Facebook Inc., he said, Shopify has a clear business model and an obvious potential for revenue growth.

“They are actually selling the software, they’re not reliant on some more nebulous business model,” he said. “The fact that Shopify has a compelling value proposition bodes well for their financial performance.”

Shopify’s 165,000 customers include automaker Tesla Motors, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, and hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan, as well as online entertainers such as YouTube show Epic Meal Time and online comic strips Penny Arcade and the Oatmeal.

Shopify serves merchants from more than 150 countries, with 60 per cent of its client base in the United States.

The company grew from the modest ambitions of three Ottawa men looking to sell snowboarding equipment online. The platform they built turned into Shopify, which began offering its services to other businesses in 2006.

Shopify now has more than 500 employees across offices in Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, including the new 102,000 square-foot headquarters it opened in downtown Ottawa in 2014.

Regulatory filings show that Shopify lost US$22.3 million last year compared to US$4.8 million in 2013. Its revenue more than doubled to US$105 million.

The company said it handled US$3.8 billion in transactions in 2014.

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