Los Angeles Business Journal

Ceres Stock Rises on First Day of Trading

By Deborah Crowe Wednesday, February 22, 2012

After nearly a two-week delay from their expected launch, shares of agricultural biotech Ceres Inc. began trading on the Nasdaq Wednesday following an initial public offering that raised about $65 million.

Shares opened for trading Wednesday morning at $14.50, and gained nearly 14 percent to close at $14.80. The Thousand Oaks company priced its 5-million-share IPO at $13 a share, which was 43 percent below the original top end of a range that the company originally proposed in a regulatory filing just a few weeks ago.

Reports on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would soon streamline its regulatory review of seeds for genetically modified crops may have helped boost shares. Opponents have fought to stop or slow a wider use of genetically modified seeds for health and ecological concerns.

Ceres specializes in seeds for switchgrass, miscanthus and other crops that are grown to enable production of energy sources, like renewable transport fuels and electricity. Venture backers of the company, founded in 1997, include Artal Luxembourg, Oxford Bioscience and Monsanto Corp.

The offering is expected to close on Monday. Underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital, have an option to buy 750,000 more Ceres shares over the next 30 days to cover any overallotments.