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The Chewy IPO: Digging For Treats In SEC Filings

Sentieo

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The Year of the IPO continues! We wrote about the parallels between Pinterest and early Facebook, we did an extensive Slack S-1 read-through, and we highlighted what Uber and Lyft are saying about autonomous vehicles in their filings.

After Chewy’s first IPO filing in late April (latest S-1/A here), we are looking at what we can learn about pet industry valuations — both from trading data and from what is buried deep in SEC filings — in the form of fairness opinions filed around M&A activity in the sector.

Chewy (CHWY) does not have direct US comparables. There are no other dominant online pet food or pet medicine specialists. There used to be two publicly traded “pure play” pet food companies: Blue Buffalo (old ticker: BUFF) and FreshPet (FRPT). FRPT still trades, while BUFF was taken over by General Mills.

FRPT pioneered fresh, refrigerated pet food that is delivered to stores and sold in branded coolers, in contrast to Chewy’s online model of shelf-stable food combined with a large subscription business. After a rocky post-IPO start, FRPT is in the middle of a successful turnaround, and the company is currently trading at around 6.5x EV/NTM Sales and at around 48x EV/NTM EBITDA. Interactive chart

BUFF, on the other hand, offers traditional, shelf-stable food. BUFF was acquired by General Mills last year, and was trading at 5.7x EV/NTM Sales and 23.1x EV/NTM EBITDA at takeover time. Interactive chart

Since the General Mills-Blue Buffalo transaction was likely cited in fairness opinions, we searched all Consumer Staples company filings for tables that contain “Blue Buffalo.” We found one right away, literally the first result: Pinnacle Foods’ filings around its takeout by ConAgra Brands (CAG) (Full document here). We see that there are three recent pet food transactions that are of relevance to our work on CHWY: BUFF taken out at 25.5x EV/LTM EBITDA, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition at 20.0x, and Big Heart Pet Brands at 15.1x.

Going beyond food, we also took a look at the pet health players. There are three segments that we looked at: pet/animal pharmaceuticals, pet hospitals, and pet health insurance. There are US publicly traded companies in the pharmaceutical and the insurance space.

On the pharma side, we took a look at Idexx Laboratories (IDXX), Zoetis (ZTS), Elanco Animal Health (ELAN), and Phibro Animal Health (PAHC). We can see that the median animal pharma name is trading at 20.4x NTM EV/EBITDA.

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Originally Posted on June 7, 2019

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