LaCroix CEO Nick Caporella lost $2.7B — about half his net worth — in 9 months, report says

By RetailFOXBusiness

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Is the LaCroix trend starting to fizzle? It appears the sparkling water brand is emptying the pockets of its billionaire owner, Nick Caporella.

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Caporella is the CEO of National Beverage Corporation, the distributor of the fruity seltzer water. Both the 82-year-old and LaCroix have been slapped with lawsuits over the past year — and witnessed a major plunge in the market as a result.

According to Bloomberg, Caporella has lost $2.7 billion, which is nearly half of his estimated $4.7 billion net worth, in just nine months. Shares of National Beverage Corp. fell Tuesday to $45.15, its lowest price since 2016. On Wednesday, the stock bounced back slightly to $45.46 but sales are continuing to slip.

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LaCroix's profit plunged 39.6 percent to $24.8 million in the quarter that ended Jan. 26, while sales slipped 2.9 percent to $220.9 million. In total, the company's share price has seen a 50-percent dip since October 2018, Forbes reported.

"[Sales are] effectively in a free fall," Guggenheim Securities analyst Laurent Grandet said of National Beverage Corp. last month, per Bloomberg.

In March, Caporella told investors the company was "truly sorry" for its poor quarterly results, claiming it was mainly a "result of injustice."

"Brands do not see or hear, so they are at the mercy of their owners or care providers who must preserve the dignity and special character that the brand exemplifies."

Nick Caporella

"Negligence nor mismanagement nor woeful acts of God were not the reasons," he insisted. "Managing a brand is not so different from caring for someone who becomes handicapped. Brands do not see or hear, so they are at the mercy of their owners or care providers who must preserve the dignity and special character that the brand exemplifies."

And business is starting to nosedive even more this week after it was first revealed by Business Insider that LaCroix was slapped with a new lawsuit in 2019.

In the suit, a former employee — identified as Albert Dejewski, who served as vice president of commercial development and engagement — claims Caporella's son and National Beverage Corp. President Joseph Caporella "decided to prematurely announce that the LaCroix cans would be BPA-free going forward, months before the true production date, in order to drive positive buzz and awareness for the suffering brand." Dejewski alleges he was wrongfully terminated after voicing his concerns via email with what he considered a premature announcement.

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A National Beverage Corp. spokesman told FOX Business in a statement Tuesday the company began converting to BPA-free liners in 2017 "and continued as suppliers were able to supply cans. As of April 2019, all cans produced for LaCroix products were produced without BPA liners."

"False statements were made in litigation brought by a former employee seeking to extract a monetary recovery from the company.  We intend to vigorously defend our company and our brands against false claims brought by this disgruntled former employee," the spokesman added.

Both Caporella and LaCroix have been juggling various lawsuits over the past year.

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In July 2018, Caporella was hit with sexual harassment lawsuits after two pilots accused the billionaire of inappropriately touching them. Caporella and National Beverage Corp. have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Months later, LaCroix was hit by a class-action lawsuit that claimed its sparkling water was not "100% natural" and has been falsely advertised. At the time, National Beverage Corp. argued the suit was filed “without basis in fact or law regarding the natural composition of its LaCroix sparkling waters.”

FOX Business' Jade Scipioni contributed to this report.