El Pollo Loco Secondary Offering Seen Weighing on Shares

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LOCO) has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a secondary offering. The filing is for 6 million shares and is valued at over $250 million, based on current market prices, if the overallotment option of 900,000 shares is exercised. The underwriters for the offering are Jefferies, Baird, Stifel, Morgan Stanley and William Blair.

El Pollo Loco is a Mexican restaurant chain that operates over 400 locations within the United States. It is part of the movement toward fast casual restaurants that use fewer frozen products and have no table service. All shares are being sold by existing holders and insiders, so the company will receive none of the proceeds from this secondary offering.

As far as how this secondary offering compares to the actual initial public offering (IPO), the firm sold 7.1 million shares at $15 per share in the IPO. The stock initially came public in late July when it entered the market at $18.48. Since that time, shares have risen as high as $41.70. Given the original $15 price, this was nothing short of a hot IPO.

The company met its earnings for its third quarter, but the reaction was negative on concerns over high chicken prices.

Steve Sather, president and CEO, said:

During the third quarter we once again demonstrated the strength of our business model through the combination of our strong comparable restaurant sales, which now includes 13 consecutive quarters of growth, and a solid increase in overall profitability. We believe the broad based appeal of our differentiated, value-oriented, faster fast casual restaurant concept continues to resonate well with our guests and positions us well for sustainable long-term growth.

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Shares of El Pollo Loco closed barely down Monday about $0.01 to $36.59, but shares were lower by 4.4% at $34.99 in Tuesday’s early trading. The consensus analyst price target is $29.00, and the 52-week trading range is $18.48 to $41.70. The market cap is more than $1 billion.