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$100 Million New Jersey Deli Company Hometown International Delisted From an Over-The-Counter Market

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  • The $100 million company that owns only a single New Jersey deli was delisted from the OTCQB over-the counter-market "for not complying with the rules" and slapped with a warning label for would-be buyers on Wednesday night.
  • The action came six days after the money-losing deli owner, Hometown International, was flagged as a warning to retail stock customers in a client letter by hedge fund manager David Einhorn.
  • Hometown International's stock, traded on the over-the-counter market, has soared over the past year, giving it a market capitalization of a $100 million or more despite sales at that Paulsboro, New Jersey, deli of only about $35,000 combined in the past two years.
Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, N.J.
CNBC
Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, N.J.

The $100 million company that owns only a single New Jersey deli was delisted from the OTCQB over-the counter market "for not complying with the rules" and slapped with a warning label for would-be buyers on Wednesday night, the CEO of the company that operates that market said in a tweet.

The action came six days after the deli owner, Hometown International, was flagged as a warning to retail stock customers in a client letter by hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

Hometown International's stock has soared over the past year, giving it a market capitalization of a $100 million or more — despite sales at its Paulsboro, New Jersey, deli of only about $35,000 combined in the past two years.

The stock, which had traded as low as $4.75 per share last year, closed Wednesday on the OTCQB market at $13.07 per share, up 2.51% from the previous day.

CNBC called the number Hometown International listed in its most recent annual report and left a request for comment on the delisting.

Since Einhorn's letter was issued, CNBC has reported that multiple people connected to Hometown International or related entities have faced regulatory sanctions, legal issues and criminal prosecutions.

Cromwell Coulson, CEO of OTC Markets Group, tweeted late Wednesday: "$HWIN Delisted from OTCQB for not complying with the rules and marked CE for public interest concerns."

The acronym "CE" stands for "caveat emptor," the Latin phrase that means "buyer beware." OTC Markets Groups operate the OTCQX Best Market, OTCQB Venture Market and Pink Market for about 11,000 U.S. and foreign securities.

In a statement, OTC Markets Group said Hometown International did not meet the standards of its OTCQB Market, and that it may not reapply to join the market for at least 90 days.

"In accordance with its Caveat Emptor policy, OTC Markets Group has also determined that a public interest concern exists for Hometown International Inc. and has added the Caveat Emptor designation to HWIN," the group's statement said. "The Caveat Emptor designation will remain until OTC Markets Group believes there is no longer a public interest concern."

In announcing the caveat emptor label on Hometown International, the OTC Markets Group's Twitter account linked to its explanation of the label.

"OTC Markets Group designates certain securities as 'Caveat Emptor' and places a skull and crossbones icon next to the stock symbol to inform investors that there may be reason to exercise additional care and perform thorough due diligence before making an investment decision in that security," that policy says.

OTC Markets Group's policy says the designation can be assigned if that company becomes aware of a stock promotion that is misleading or manipulative, an investigation of fraud or other criminal activities, undisclosed corporate actions, or if there is "a public interest concern regarding the security."

Hometown International's CEO, Paul Morina, is the principal and head wrestling coach at Paulsboro High School, which is located near the company's Your Hometown Deli near Philadelphia. He holds common stock and warrants totaling 30.5 million shares.

Morina, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, has not returned repeated requests for comment.

Neither has the company's chairman, Hong Kong-based Peter Coker Jr., nor his father, Peter Coker Sr., a key investor in Hometown International, whose firm Tryon Capital has a $15,000 per month consulting deal with the deli owner.

Other than Morina's holdings, most of the company's shares are held by two sets of entities in Hong Kong and Macau, China. Each set of entities shares the same address in their respective cities.

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