Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a year after bankruptcy, climbs in 1st day on Nasdaq

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Shares of textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt climbed Thursday after an initial public offering raised $219 million.

In the IPO, nearly 18.3 million shares priced at $12 each, below the projected range of $14 to $16 per share.

Boston-based Houghton Mifflin filed for Chapter 11 in May 2012 after reaching an agreement to eliminate $3.1 billion of its debt. It emerged from bankruptcy protection a month later.

Houghton Mifflin had been struggling with heavy debt for years. The company acquired Harcourt Education in 2007 for roughly $4 billion. While that deal helped make it one of the top sellers of kindergarten through 12th grade books, tough economic times brought cuts in public funding for education and hurt its textbook sales.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co. won’t get money from the IPO, as the shares in the offering were sold by existing stockholders, including hedge fund manager John Paulson’s investment firm, Paulson & Co.

The stock, trading on the Nasdaq under the “HMHC” ticker symbol, is up about 21 per cent to $14.47 in midday trading.