Boutique Japanese appliance maker Balmuda set out to make the perfect slice of toast, using the right combination of temperature, moisture and cooking time. Now, it looks like the company will have to bring as much care and attention to its stock price.
The company behind the $230 toaster, which is now being sold outside of Japan and South Korea, saw its shares double on their first day of trading on Wednesday. The stock was set to rise by its limit Thursday, potentially giving Balmuda a market value of 35.2 billion yen ($340 million). It’s a heady debut for founder Gen Terao, a high-school dropout who owns three-quarters of the company.
Since the toaster’s debut in 2015, Balmuda has expanded into a range of appliances that include a rice cooker, room fan and vacuum cleaner. Like its products, the company’s shares are on track to be expensive. They’re currently worth about 40 times last year’s earnings, a valuation more than double that of Panasonic, the mainstay of Japanese appliance makers.
“Balmuda, like its products, is easy to understand,” said Kazuo Kishi, an analyst at Ace Securities and the only one who has issued a report on the company.
Although Mr Kishi hasn’t yet rated the stock or set a price target, he expects Balmuda’s shares to climb higher this week as retail investors flock to the stock, especially after a writeup in the Nikkei newspaper on Thursday.
Balmuda, based in Tokyo’s suburbs, was the first to seek to transform the humble toaster into a high-tech, and high priced, gadget.
Then last year, Mitsubishi Electric, took on the toaster challenge and introduced the Bread Oven, a $270 gadget that makes a single slice of toast at a time. Mitsubishi’s toaster seals bread inside a metal box and transfers heat using two plates at temperatures as high as 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit).
Both have their merits. The Balmuda can take a stale rubbery croissant and turn it into a flaky delight. The Bread Oven makes exquisite French toast.
Balmuda is among several companies listing on Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Mothers market in the remaining months of 2020. The toaster maker’s shares remained untraded early on Thursday, as the number of bidders outweighed sellers.
The company will use part of the 2.5bn yen in proceeds from the initial public offering to boost marketing by 35 per cent, including in the US, and spend 600 million yen on developing new products over the next two years. While Balmuda designs and markets its appliances, production is outsourced to domestic and overseas manufacturers.
Now that Balmuda has attracted investor attention and laid out expansion plans, “really, the question is how much can they grow,” Mr Kishi said.