LaCroix Maker (FIZZ) CEO Responds to Recent Stock Decline With Press Release - TheStreet

LaCroix sparkling water maker National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ) - Get Report released a press release on Thursday, Oct. 19, that some would say fits right into the zany nature of the company's previous release.

Nick A. Caporella, on Thursday, blamed analysts who he claimed were in cahoots with short-sellers and derivatives traders for the stock's 8% fall this week and 22% fall this month.

"THE OBSCURE SILVER LINING IS A UNIQUELY-INDUCED OPPORTUNITY," CEO Nick Caporella wrote, presumably advising readers to buy the dip. "If you have the opinion that I, Nick A. Caporella, am angrily exercised while extremely fortunate to be guiding FIZZ, your opinion is quite accurate!"

National Beverage shares are up 89.2% year to date, but Caporella, its 81-year-old CEO and majority shareholder, is unsatisfied. In the exclamation point-laden press release, he attributed the stock's fall to "perpetrators stimulating self-serving movement by stating falsehoods, creating rumors and deliberately manipulating FIZZ value," creating a vicious downward cycle because "over 50% of all daily exchange volume is driven by traders gambling on fleeting price moves and stocks paired with derivatives."

During National Beverage's first quarter of fiscal 2018, which ended July 29, the company reported earnings of 82 cents per share on net sales of $259.8 million, up 32.2% and 19.7%, respectively. Those results, Caporella wrote, were the company's "BEST EVER!" and second-quarter performance is "STEADFAST!"

Analysts covering the company who lack Caporella's confidence in its future growth prospects are "induc[ing] short sellers to stampede aboard the passive BOT trading wagon," Caporella asserted. Due to the proliferation of passive investment, the market "does not question logic if prices are equitable, BUT merely accepts the stampede-induced results!"

Short interest accounts for 18.3% of National Beverage's float, according to FactSet.

LaCroix, the fast-growing sparkling water brand in the United States, represents about two thirds of National Beverage's sales, estimated Susquehanna analyst Pablo Zuanic. Its 16% market share in the category is larger than that of Coca-Cola Co. (KO) - Get Report and PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) - Get Report at 3% and 1%, respectively. According to Zuanic's estimates, LaCroix is on track to surpass the current market share leaders, Nestlé SA (NSRGY) - Get Report at 21%, private label at 20% and privately held Talking Rain at 19%, by the end of the next fiscal year.

If its aggressive growth continues and distribution expands to Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) - Get Report and convenience stores, National Beverage "may raise the probability of an aggressive bid," Zuanic wrote, naming Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestlé and Danone (DANOY) as likely bidders. In contrast, Credit Suisse analyst Laurent Grandet believes there's only a 20% chance that Coca-Cola or Pepsi would make a bid, and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi complained in a recent analyst call that potential acquisition targets traded at excessively high multiples.

In the meantime, the recent underperformance, which Caporella called "strange and unprecedented circumstances," may be caused by "high-frequency trading, BOT stampeded results, inflated short positions and...[ellipses original] current world anxiety."

The tone of the press release is fairly standard for Caporella, who, for instance, released the company's first-quarter results with an erratically punctuated statement claiming the strong financial performance came about "because our heartbeat is 'innovation' and here that spells...aromas and scents! [all punctuation original]," evidenced by its forthcoming Key Lime flavor launch.

National Beverage is expected to release its second-quarter earnings on Nov. 29. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect it to earn 69 cents per share on sales of $240.7 million.

Shares were down 1.1% to $96.64 in Thursday afternoon trading, their lowest level since July.

More of What's Trending on TheStreet:

Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 19.