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One of Valley’s Largest Private Companies Files IPO

American Reprographics Co., one of the largest privately held companies in the greater San Fernando Valley, has filed an initial public offering as the market for IPOs shows marked improvement. The Glendale-based company hopes to raise $230 million in the IPO, which American Reprographics plans to use for debt repayment and expansion. The offering, which was not yet priced at press time, comes amid a sizable increase in the number of public offerings compared to last year and rising values for newly public companies. “The market has changed dramatically,” said David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com, which tracks initial public offerings. “We are seeing deals that are under-priced that then start to move higher in the after market, which is contrary to what happened a few years ago.” A total of 80 initial public offerings were priced in 2003, compared with 152 offerings priced as of Sept. 30, IPOfinancial.com said. At the same time, these new stock offerings are seeing far better price movement once they come on the market than new offerings did several years ago. The change is partly due to more conservative valuations at the outset and improved stock market performance overall, Menlow said. The move by American Reprographics, which specializes in digital reproduction technology mainly for architects, engineers and the construction industry, follows several years of rapid expansion and acquisition the company acquired 80 firms since 1997. More recently, American Reprographics has begun opening branch service centers and expects to operate a total of 29 branches by the end of the first quarter of 2005. According to its SEC filing, American Reprographics is the largest company of its kind in a highly fragmented, $5 billion industry. The average company’s revenues are $1.5 million. In contrast, American Reprographics, which operates in 170 markets in the U.S. and Canada and employs 3,450 workers, has seen its revenues double since 1999 to $416 million in 2003. In the first six months of 2004, American Reprographics reported diluted earnings of $0.35 per share on revenues of $226 million. That compares with diluted earnings of $0.24 per share on revenues of $214.2 million for the same period last year. Executives at the company, which is in a quiet period, did not return calls. But in its SEC filing, the company said that it hopes to capitalize on its unusual position as a national provider in the industry. “Our size and national footprint provide us with significant purchasing power, economies of scale, the ability to invest in industry leading technologies, and the resources to service large, national customers,” the filing states. The company’s reach allows it to provide national clients with local centers close to project sites while coordinating billing and tracking information from all of a company’s project sites. Customers point out that the local service is one of the company’s competitive advantages. “A lot of architectural firms on the Westside use them, so they know their business,” said Loring Wou, associate vice president at Hammel, Green and Abrahamson Inc., an architectural firm in L.A. “They support their clients, and they bend over backwards.”

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