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Ingram to go public this week

The nation's largest distributor of computer hardware, networking equipment, and software is expected to go public this week.

Ingram Micro, the nation's largest distributor of computer hardware, networking equipment, and software, is expected to go public this week as it faces increasing competition and narrower profit margins.

Ingram's initial public offering calls for 20 million shares priced between $14 to $16 each, which would give the company a value upward of $320 million.

"The company will have a currency with its stock and can use it pursue acquisitions," said Kevin McCarthy, an analyst with NatWest Securities in New York. "For the last ten years, there has been a steady consolidation in the industry. It's a low-margin business, and once you get to a certain size, it's hard to grow without growing your capital base."

Ingram, which has seen its sales and profits grow about threefold in the last five years to $8.6 billion in revenue and $84.3 million in net profits, said in its registration filing that its gross profit margins have declined to 6.8 percent for the first half of the year, compared with 8.1 percent in 1993.

The company attributed the decline to competition.

Before the IPO, Ingram will be spun off from its parent, Ingram Industries. The company will trade under IM on the New York Stock Exchange.