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Long Island Iced Tea plans $11.5M Nasdaq stock offering

Long Island Iced Tea Corp., a Hicksville maker of ready-to-drink iced tea, has filed to raise $11.5 million in a stock offering, according to a government document.

The stock of the 5-year-old company, whose “craft brewed” iced tea is sold at supermarkets and convenience stores, currently is traded over the counter under the symbol LTEA. The company has applied for the same symbol on the Nasdaq Capital Market, which caters to small capitalization companies and is one of three tiers of the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock closed Monday at $9.90, down $1.60.

The company, with 19 full-time and three part-time employees, operates out of a 5,000-square-foot leased facility on Charlotte Avenue that includes offices and a warehouse.

In recent decades, Long Island has seen its roster of public companies traded on major stock exchanges dwindle at a rate faster than the nation as a whole as corporations were acquired (Pall, Grumman, Symbol Technologies) or moved their headquarters (Arrow Electronics, CA Technologies, Avnet).

At the same time, there has been a dearth of public companies staging initial public offerings or moving into the region. Hauppauge-based credit TransFirst, a credit card processor owned by a San Francisco private equity firm, had filed for an IPO in August 2014, but was acquired in January for $2.35 billion by publicly traded rival TSYS based in Columbus, Georgia.

Anoop Rai, professor of finance at Hofstra University, said that a decline in the number of Long Island public companies is not worrisome as long as other companies fill the void.

“If they’re replaced by private companies still paying taxes, the net effect may not be as bad,” he said. “The fact that unemployment is down suggests that employment is created by nonlisted companies.”

Long Island has been a spawning ground for beverage companies, including closely held Arizona Iced Tea and Apple & Eve, which was acquired by Lasonde Industries for $150 million, and publicly traded Hain Celestial, whose products include tea, juices and soy milk.

Pricing terms of Long Island Iced Tea’s stock offering were not yet disclosed. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said it plans to use proceeds from the stock offering for general corporate purposes.

In 2015, the company posted net sales of $1.9 million, an 8.8 percent increase over the prior year. The company attributed the sales increase to the launch of gallon-size containers.

Network 1 Financial Securities Inc., an investment bank headquartered in Red Bank, New Jersey, and with a branch in Syosset, will run the stock offering.

Citing the “quiet period” before a stock offering, Long Island Iced Tea chief executive Philip Thomas declined to comment.

The company is seeking to secure the trademark for “Long Island Iced Tea” through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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