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Hometown International, the mystifying New Jersey deli company that is valued at nearly $100 million on the stock market — despite running just a single deli — has ousted its CEO, according to a financial filing.
Paul Morina, a local high school principal and renowned wrestling coach in the area, was removed after a vote by majority shareholders, according to the late Friday filing.
Morina owns about 1.5 million shares of the Paulsboro- based company, which are worth more than $18.5 million based on the company’s current stock price.
Shareholders of the company also ousted the company’s only other executive, vice president and secretary Christine Lindenmuth, who works in her day job with Morina as an administrator at Paulsboro High School.
The shareholders responsible for ousting the executives, who remain principals in the deli, did not provide a reason for the firings, according to the filing with the SEC, which is dated May 12.
The news comes about a month after Hometown International first drew scrutiny when hedge fund manager David Einhorn pointed out the company’s seemingly outsized market capitalization.
Einhorn used the publicly traded company, which is listed on the over-the-counter market, as a warning sign for investors in a letter to clients.
Einhorn noted that the company had reached that eye-popping valuation despite reporting total sales of less than $37,000 over the past two years and was closed for nearly half of 2020 due to pandemic restrictions.
“The pastrami must be amazing,” Einhorn wrote in April.
Last month, the management of Hometown International disavowed the company’s bizarre valuation, according to SEC filings.
“Management is aware of no basis to support the Company’s stock price, based upon its revenue or assets,” the company said in an April 30 statement.
Last week’s filing says that Morina was replaced as CEO by Hong Kong-based Peter Coker Jr., who’s also Hometown International’s chairman.
Coker Jr.’s father, Peter Coker Sr., is a 78-year-old North Carolina businessman who’s a substantial shareholder of Hometown International.
CNBC previously reported that the senior Coker has been sued for allegedly hiding money from creditors and business-related fraud. He has denied wrongdoing in those cases, one of which settled out of court in North Carolina.
And until recently, a firm controlled by Coker Sr., Tryon Capital, was collecting $15,000 a month from Hometown International under a consulting agreement. That agreement was terminated last month after CNBC reported on it and Coker Sr.’s history of criminal allegations.
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