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La Croix CEO Frustration Bubbles Over in Short Seller Blame Game

A 23 percent slump in National Beverage Corp. shares from their Sept. 11 peak incited a tirade by its chief executive officer, Nick Caporella, in comments that are more often seen on Twitter than in a corporate press release.

Caporella, in a statement laced with italicized and all-cap exclamations, blamed recent volatility on deliberate manipulation, saying "perpetrators" triggered the fall with falsehoods and rumors. The release titled "FIZZ Grows Stronger!!" joins a history of colorfully worded corporate statements from the La Croix maker, which have included such descriptors as “salubrious” and “naturally essenced,” when referring to its product.

Analysts were blasted for driving shorting activity by supposedly calling National Beverage "weak," causing Caporella to ask, "Where is the SEC watchdog?" Researchers did recently question whether shares could sustain their 120 percent rally in the past year, citing increased seltzer competition and less chance of a takeover.

The release comes just over a year after Glaucus Research sent National Beverage’s shares down as much as 16 percent after questioning its accounting.

Are Caporella’s gripes reasonable? Short interest as a percent of float did rise from the September peak, to 18.1% from 15.4% on Sept. 11, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners. The level can be partly attributed the small number of shares available to short, as the 81-year-old founder owns almost 74 percent of National Beverage’s shares, according to Bloomberg data. Notional value on the short side rose through late September, which does coincide with some of the recent decline in share price.

Caporella claims more than half of all daily trading is based on "fleeting price moves" by “gambling” traders. He did not cite a source for his figures. The company was not immediately available for comment.

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