Above and Beyond: CEO Ethan Brown speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell.

Above and Beyond: CEO Ethan Brown speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell.

Beyond Meat Inc. received a rock star Wall Street reception as investors sent shares skyrocketing during the company’s first day of public trading.

Beyond Meat’s share price opened at $46 on the first day of trading after it priced shares at $25 under the BYND ticker. The company’s shares jumped during the May 2 trading session to close at $65.75.

The 163% stock price surge for the maker of vegan beef and sausage products was the best debut session of any U.S. listing since at least 2008 among IPOs that raised at least $200 million. Beyond Meat saw its market value balloon to $3.8 billion at the close of trading.

The El Segundo-based food producer offered up 9.6 million shares, raising about $240 million for the company. The surge in share price gave the company a market cap of approximately $3.8 billion on May 2.

The company is the first plant-based food company to go public on a major exchange.

The injection of cash should help Beyond Meat’s position vis-a-vis competitor Impossible Foods Inc., which recently announced a deal with fast-food chain Burger King. Beyond also has a fast-food partnership, announced earlier this year, with Carl’s Jr.

The company’s revenues more than doubled last year to $87.9 million from $32.6 million in 2017 as it expanded distribution and as consumer demand for meat alternatives continued to grow.

Despite the revenue jump, Beyond Meat has lost money every year since its inception, including a reported $29.9 million loss last year.

Longtime vegan Ethan Brown founded the company 10 years ago after coming across an imitation chicken product developed by food scientists at the University of Missouri that mimicked the texture of chicken. He licensed the product and in 2012 moved the company’s headquarters to El Segundo where he added other imitation meat products including the company’s now signature burger patty. The Beyond Burger patty doesn’t contain genetically modified organisms, gluten or soy; a key ingredient is pea protein.

The company has 383 employees with a research and development facility in El Segundo and a manufacturing plant in Columbia, Mo.

Beyond Meat had raised $192.8 million prior to its initial public offering, according to PitchBook Data Inc. from backers including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

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