Porn Company Prices IPO

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 | 11:16 AM ET

After a series of false starts, the owner of Penthouse magazine and over two dozen adult Websites is finally going public.

Friend Finder Network
Photo: ffn.com
Friend Finder Network

FriendFinder Networks says it expects to raise $50 million from the public offering of 5 million shares (priced at $10 each). The company said it expects trading to begin Wednesday on the Nasdaq market under the symbol FFN.

While Penthouse is the company's best-known property, FriendFinder owns a network of over 50 Websites, the majority of which are matchmaking ventures such as AdultFriendFinder and LesbianPersonals. More than 70 percent of its income comes from these matchmaking sites. The company has previously reported its network attracts 140 million unique visitors per month.

Also included in the mix are a number of porn streaming sites and Webcam operations, where models strip and perform for user donations. The company says these sites make up 23 percent of its net revenues.

"The wall of the porn star is breaking down and I think we’re moving in a direction where there’s a lot more interaction between fans and stars." -Adult Actress & Owner, BurningAngel, Joanna Angel

The $10 price is at the bottom of the company's proposed range of $10-$12. FriendFinder says the cash it raises will be used to repay debt. Last year, the company had net revenues of $346 million, but reported a net loss of $43.2 million. First quarter revenue in 2011 was off 3 percent, but the company paired its net losses.

There are no plans to pay cash dividends for the foreseeable future, the company said in an SEC filing, and underwriters have been granted the option to purchase an additional 750,000 shares should there be an over-allotment.

FriendFinder first began talking about an IPO in 2008, initially filing for an offering worth $460 million. With the market flash crash, the company shelved those plans, however.

More recently, it tried to buy Playboy Enterprises for $210 million, though Hugh Hefner ultimately took the company private.

Publicly traded porn companies are a rare commodity, in part because of the strict bookkeeping and reporting requirements. New Frontier Media, which oversees nine adult-themed pay-per-view networks, including XTSY, TEN and Penthouse TV, is one of the very few on the market. (The company also produces many of the films that air late at night on Cinemax and Showtime.)

A smaller European distributor, Private Media, is also available to investors, but due to low share prices, Nasdaq has threatened to delist the company on June 17 if it fails to submit a plan to regain compliance.

Based in Boca Raton, Fla., FriendFinder is in a different niche than its contemporaries, though. The company does not produce DVDs, a segment of the porn industry that is dying quickly, due to rampant piracy. Instead, it targets niche audiences, from gay singles to swingers to bondage enthusiasts and gives them a chance to find like-minded individuals.

The company is also at the forefront of one of the fastest growing areas in porn: Webcam models. Interactive experiences between models and their fans have been called one of the next big things in porn by industry insiders.

"I think things that are becoming a lot more community oriented," says Joanna Angel, an adult actress and owner of BurningAngel. "The wall of the porn star is breaking down and I think we’re moving in a direction where there’s a lot more interaction between fans and stars."

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