Proto Labs Stock Up Post-IPO; Many MN Cos. See Gains

Shares of Maple Plain-based Proto Labs closed Friday at $29 per share-an 81 percent jump from its Thursday evening IPO price of $16 per share-and are still trading up; the news comes at a time when many Minnesota companies are reportedly doing well in the stock market.

Shares of Maple Plain-based Proto Labs, Inc., shot up 81 percent on their first day of trading Friday, mirroring many Minnesota companies' recent momentum on the stock market.

Proto Labs went public late Thursday with an initial public offering (IPO) price of $16 per share. Its shares jumped about 81 percent to close Friday at $29 each and were trading Tuesday morning at about $28.41-up 74 percent from the initial offering price.

The quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts raised nearly $70 million in its IPO, selling 4.3 million shares of stock at a price higher than its expected range of $13 to $15 a share. The company's shares started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday morning under the ticker PRLB.

Proto Labs is reportedly not the only Minnesota company that is doing well in the stock market. The Star Tribune reported Monday that among the state's 100 biggest public companies, 71 have seen their share prices rise in 2012. The biggest gainers include Thief River Falls-based all-terrain vehicle maker Arctic Cat (up 61 percent), Vadnais Heights-based adhesives maker H.B. Fuller (up 33 percent), and Little Canada-based medical device giant St. Jude Medical (up 25 percent).

Meanwhile, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report, Winona-based hardware supplier Fastenal Company is the biggest gainer since the stock market crash of 1987 among about 400 stocks in the Russell 1000 index that have been trading for at least 25 years. The company's stock has reportedly surged 38,565 percent since the crash, from 13 cents on October 19, 1987, to $50.85 last week. Its stock reportedly gained 60 percent over the past year and, by a small margin, outpaced UnitedHealth Group's stock, which has surged 37,178 percent over the same period. Both companies far outpaced technology giants Google and Apple.

Proto Labs' IPO success was welcome news for Minnesota, as the state's IPO activity has been sluggish in recent years amid economic uncertainty. Only two local companies went public last year: Plymouth-based Kips Bay Medical, Inc., and Amsterdam-based medical device company Tornier, which has its U.S. headquarters in Edina.

Two of the state's companies completed IPOs in 2010 as well-New Prague-based Electromed, Inc., and Minneapolis-based SPS Commerce. Only one company went public in 2009 and none completed an IPO in 2008.

Meanwhile, in April 2011, Eden Prairie-based catalog and online retailer Bluestem Brands, Inc., filed for an IPO that could raise up to $150 million-but the company said in November that it would postpone its offering, declining to reveal the reasoning behind its decision.

In November, Plymouth-based BioAmber, Inc., indicated in a regulatory filing that it intends to go public, but it hasn't completed an IPO yet.

Proto Labs uses high-tech machining and injection molding to manufacture parts for customers in a variety of industries. Founded in 1999, it has grown its revenues from $35.9 million in 2007 to $98.9 million in 2011. Meanwhile, the company has grown from roughly 230 full-time employees in early 2008 to 511 at the end of last year.