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Jessica Alba's Honest Co valued near $2 billion in strong market debut

·2 min read
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By Echo Wang 

  (Reuters) -Shares of Hollywood star Jessica Alba's Honest Co traded sharply higher on their Nasdaq debut on Wednesday, valuing the consumer goods company at around $2 billion. 

  The shares were trading 37.5% higher than the IPO price, at around $22, on Wednesday afternoon in New York. Alba's 6.1% stake in the company is now worth $124 million. 

  "This is an incredible jump off into building a company that I hope will be around for 100-plus years," Alba, the company's co-founder and chief creative officer, said in an interview. 

  "Our growth, fueled by being public, will enable us to drive more product innovation and consumer accessibility," added Alba, known for her acting roles in the film "Fantastic Four" and TV series "Dark Angel." 

  Honest's offerings include eco-friendly baby products, vitamins, sunscreen lotions and sanitizers that are sold online and through partnerships with brick-and-mortar stores including Costco and Target. 

  The company's debut comes amid a bullish market for IPOs and increased investor interest in sustainable companies. 

  Plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods is looking to list through a blank-check merger, Reuters reported in April, while sustainable sneaker maker Allbirds is also in talks for an IPO, according to media reports. 

  Co-founded in 2011 by Alba, Honest is backed by investment firms Lightspeed, Fidelity and General Catalyst, among others. 

  Honest was valued at as much as $1.7 billion in 2015 before it came under scrutiny in 2016, when a lawsuit said its products contained a harsh chemical it had pledged to avoid. Honest then reached a $7.35 million settlement for wrongly labeling ingredients in some products as natural, plant-based or chemical free. 

  Honest reported a 28% surge in revenue to $300 million last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic bolstered sales of its cleaning products. Its losses narrowed to $14.5 million from $31.1 million a year earlier. It has never turned a profit. 

  Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Jefferies are the lead underwriters for the company's offering. 

  (Reporting by Echo Wang in Miami; Additional reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Will Dunham)