* Backed by British private equity firm Doughty Hanson
* Shares priced above indicated range, rise as much as 59 pct
By Tanya Agrawal and Ashutosh Pandey
April 19 (Reuters) - Shares of high-end luggage maker Tumi Holdings Inc soared in their market debut as investors bet on a recovery in tourism and continued spending by its wealthy clients.
Tumi’s strong start as a public company mirrors the impressive stock market debut of luxury brand Michael Kors Holdings Ltd, whose stock has more than doubled in value since it started trading on Dec. 15.
The luxury goods industry has been performing well despite economic uncertainty around the world. Strong growth in emerging markets and the tendency of increasingly affluent Asian shoppers to buy luxury goods when on vacation have also boosted sales.
The upbeat market for pricey goods has prompted a spate of initial stock offerings, including the $2.1 billion IPO of Italian fashion house Prada SpA in Hong Kong and the $487 million IPO of Italian luxury shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo .
Tumi priced 18.8 million shares at $18 per share on Wednesday, raising $338.4 million. It had expected to sell its shares for $15 to $17 each.
The maker of luggage, business cases and handbags is benefiting from a resurgence in the travel industry, which had suffered after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
“Tumi commands great brand loyalty and has done an amazing job when it comes to selling directly to customers,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD Group’s chief retail industry analyst.
“Tumi’s use of e-commerce and social commerce to sell their products is where we’ll really see the growth story.”
The IPO allowed British private equity firm Doughty Hanson to reduce its stake in the luxury bags maker to about 60.7 percent.
Doughty Hanson, which previously owned 84.3 percent of Tumi’s stock, is also an investor in Netherlands-based maker of activated carbon, Norit NV, which has filed to go public in the United States.
For a Breakingviews column on Tumi -
Tumi competes directly with the world’s biggest luggage maker, Samsonite International SA, which tried to buy the company early this year, according to media reports.
Other competitors include Burberry, Dunhill, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Montblanc.
“The company caters to an elite clientele, who can afford up to $2,000 individual luggage ... the company will only grow,” said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique.
Tumi has retail stores at premium retail venues across the globe including New York, Paris, London, Rome, Tokyo, Moscow and Milan and plans to open eight to 16 stores over the next three years.
The company’s net sales rose 31 percent to $330 million in 2011. Net income rose to $16.6 million from $104,000.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Credit Suisse were the main underwriters of the offering.
Shares of the South Plainfield, New Jersey-based company closed up 47 percent at $26.50 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.