An Infomercial King Is Going Public

Ron Popeil's Ronco is selling stock on its website; but wait, there's more!
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2017 6:23 PM CDT
Ron Popeil, founder of Ronco, pitches the Food Dehydrator.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Ronco Brands—purveyor of the Veg-O-Matic, EZ-Store Rotisserie, and Beef Jerky Machine—is going public in a way befitting an infomercial king. The Wall Street Journal reports the company founded by inventor Ron Popeil in the 1960s is trying to sell $30 million in stock for its initial public offering. But it's not doing so through a Wall Street firm or the stock exchange, according to Fortune. Instead, Ronco is selling stock directly to consumers on its website. But wait, there's more! If you buy stock—$6 per share; 20 shares minimum—you'll get a 10% discount on your next Ronco purchase, CBS News reports. Buy more than $5,000 worth of stock, and Ronco will throw in a rotisserie oven.

But Ronco stock might not be the great deal it appears. The company claims to have sold more than $2 billion worth of products since its founding and values itself at $110 million or so. But it reported revenue of just $9 million in 2015 and a net loss of $2.7 million in 2016. It's currently $17 million in debt, and auditors have "substantial doubts" it can even continue to exist. This isn't anything new for Ronco. The company went into bankruptcy protection after going public in 1969. Popeil bought it back in the 1980s only have have it go back into bankruptcy protection in 2007. Ronco has gone through multiple owners in recent years. And it appears now's the chance for dedicated fans of the Turbo Food Dehydrator to add their names to that list. (Read more Ronco stories.)

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