Mountain Valley Awaits Right Time for IPO

Mountain Valley Spring Co. of Hot Springs is waiting for the right market conditions before it moves forward with its initial public stock offering.

“We’re just waiting for the proper time,” Breck Speed, company CEO and chairman of the board, told Arkansas Business last week. “If we could get some kind of idea if the market is going to be receptive to IPOs, then we’ll take a look at that. The public markets are … described as choppy right now.”

In December, Mountain Valley filed paperwork with the Securities & Exchange Commission indicating that it was preparing for an IPO.

In the meantime, Mountain Valley in June parted ways with its general counsel and secretary of the company, Robert “Bob” Eubanks III, Speed said.

Speed said Mountain Valley decided to use an outside firm instead of “having that capability inside.” Eubanks had been with the company since 2011. In 2011, Eubanks received a salary of $24,527 plus another $1,124 for compensation, according to the company’s prospectus filed with the SEC on March 8. The company hasn’t filed anything with the SEC since then.

Speed declined to say how much the move would save Mountain Valley; Eubanks couldn’t be reached for comment.

For 2011, Mountain Valley saw its sales rise 4.8 percent over 2010 numbers to $25.4 million.

Speed said the revenue growth was a result of “organic growth. We’ve done no acquisitions or anything else.”

Still, the company lost $3.6 million in 2011, which was on top of a $5.08 million loss in 2010.

“We have not been profitable in recent years, and we may not become profitable in the future,” the company said in its filing. “Our losses may continue as we incur additional costs and expenses related to becoming and operating as a public company, branding and marketing, expansion of operations, product development and development of relationships with strategic business partners.”

Speed said he couldn’t comment too much on the company because of the pending IPO.

But he said this year’s numbers “will be very interesting.” Speed wouldn’t say when the numbers would be filed.

“When we decide that the markets look like they’ll be receptive, … then we’ll update our numbers,” Speed said.

Mountain Valley hasn’t settled on a share price for its IPO. “That will be determined in consultation with the investment bankers,” he said.

In the March filing with the SEC, Mountain Valley proposed a maximum aggregate offering price of $23 million.

Part of the money raised would be used to pay for the consolidation of its Little Rock manufacturing plant into its Hot Springs location. That project was started at the end of 2011 and has been completed, Speed said. The move cost about $1.5 million and “went according to plan,” Speed said.

Founded in 1871, Mountain Valley bottles and sells premium natural spring water and manufactured bottles. Its bottled water division accounted for 58 percent of its sales, while its manufactured bottle division generated the rest.

Mountain Valley’s biggest shareholder is MV Holdings LLC of Rogers. It currently owns 85 percent of the company, but will own 51 percent of the stock after the IPO, the filing said. If the demand for the shares is high and more shares of the company are needed, however, MV Holdings could end up owning 46 percent of the company. MV Holdings is controlled by Johnelle Hunt, co-founder of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell.