Animal health firm Elanco surges 41 percent on debut

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly unit Elanco Animal Health Inc's ELAN.N shares jumped as much as 41 percent on their stock market debut on Thursday, adding to investor enthusiasm for the fast-growing pet healthcare market.

Slideshow ( 4 images )

Elanco’s shares opened at $32.25 on the New York Stock Exchange, higher than their IPO price of $24 per share, giving the company a market value of $11.49 billion. As of 1641 GMT, the shares hit a high of $33.85.

The company raised $1.51 billion from the offering, which it expects to largely pass on to Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N.

The U.S. drugmaker is expected to own about 82.3 percent of Elanco after the IPO, which was announced in July following a nine-month review of Lilly’s businesses which include diabetes and lung cancer drugs.

“We looked at the after-tax value to Lilly’s shareholders during the separation, and that was an important metric during the discussions,” Elanco CEO Jeff Simmons told Reuters.

Simmons emphasized Elanco’s focus would be its core animal health business. “We do not see the need for M&A to execute growth plans.”

Elanco has been spending 8 percent of sales on research and development, Simmons told CNBC earlier in the day.

The company sells medicines for both pets and livestock, and its Rumensin cattle feed additive accounts for 10 percent of its annual sales of about $3 billion.

Elanco sold 62.9 million shares as part of its IPO, and had targeted an offering price between $20 and $23 per share.

Rising demand for its pet healthcare products has driven much of the company’s business in recent years, propelling Elanco to No. 4 globally in the list of animal healthcare groups by revenue.

The pet medicine and vaccine market is largely dominated by Pfizer Inc's PFE.N animal health unit Zoetis ZTS.N, which raised $2.2 billion in a 2013 IPO.

Zoetis’ shares have nearly tripled since then and many analysts expect Elanco will replicate that success in an industry projected to grow at 5 percent from 2017 to 2023, according to data firm Vetnosis.

Elanco’s listing should deliver more value to Lilly shareholders and help the company as it sharpens focus on cancer treatments and looks beyond the recent failure in trials of its experimental Alzheimer’s drug.

The 16-member IPO underwriting team included Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Shounak Dasgupta