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Insurtech Lemonade soars in stock market debut

Lemonade Insurance

(Reuters) – Shares of insurance startup Lemonade Inc. surged 73% in their market debut on Thursday, capitalizing on the rebound in U.S. investor demand for new listings following the coronavirus outbreak.

The company’s shares opened at $50.06 on the New York Stock Exchange, compared with their initial public offering price of $29. The opening price values the company at $2.75 billion.

Lemonade on Wednesday raised $319 million after pricing its offering above an already elevated range. The company was looking to sell its shares between $26 and $28 apiece and had originally targeted $23-$26 per share.

The company said it has digitized the entire insurance process, replacing brokers and paperwork with algorithms, helping it provide policies to homeowners and renters in as little as 90 seconds and claim payments in three minutes.

Lemonade, which started operations in late 2016, is part of a fast-growing fintech sub-sector called “insurtech,” short for insurance technology, that uses artificial intelligence and big data to disrupt existing business models, maximize efficiency and mitigate insurance risk.

“This company is a disruptor in the insurance arena,” said Jeff Zell, senior research analyst and partner at IPO tracking firm IPO Boutique. “The valuation of Lemonade must be viewed, in our opinion, through the lens of extensive growth in the future.”

The company’s valuation at the opening price is well over the $2.1 billion it was valued at last year, after it raised $300 million in a funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and which included insurer Allianz SE and Alphabet Inc.'s venture capital arm, GV.

SoftBank owns a 27.3% stake in Lemonade.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Allen & Co. and Barclays served as lead underwriters for the offering.