Teen and preteen discount retailer Five Below on Thursday saw strong investor support in its first day of trading as a public company that sent its shares up as high as 73.1 percent from where it priced the night before.

This story first appeared in the July 20, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Philadelphia-based firm priced its shares at $17 each Wednesday night, which was at the top end of its pricing range. The shares opened at $26.10, and ended the trading session up 55.9 percent to close at $26.50 after rising as high as $29.43 in intraday trading.

The firm is the second teen-focused retailer to go public this year. Surf-and-skate chain Tilly’s Inc. had its initial public offering in May.

Five Below, which targets aspirational teens even though it sells its offerings at $5 or less, sold 9.6 million shares and raised $163.5 million. Five Below said Thursday it expects to receive $72 million after deducting underwriting commissions and offering costs. Part of the proceeds will be used to repay at least $50 million of outstanding debt under its new term loan facility, and the balance for general corporate purposes.

The company was founded by David Schlessinger and Tom Vellios in 2002. Schlessinger founded educational-focused toy chain Zany Brainy, while Vellios was that firm’s former chief executive officer.

There were 199 stores across 17 states as of April 28. The company posted $16 million in net income on $297 million in net sales for fiscal 2011.

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