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Shares plunge at Tampa treasure hunter Odyssey Marine

Shares in Tampa's deep sea treasure hunting company Odyssey Marine Exploration plunged nearly 25 percent Tuesday, a day after a quarterly earnings report showed a $9.8 million loss on revenues of less than $600,000. Shares fell to a one-year low, closing at $1.66.

Odyssey has come under pressure from outspoken short sellers, who make money criticizing the company then betting on the company's stock to fall. One "activist" San Francisco hedge fund, Meson Capital Partners, first targeted Odyssey Marine last fall and on Tuesday publicly urged company directors to fire CEO Greg Stemm.

"It appears that without a rapid injection of capital, (Odyssey Marine) would be unable to make payroll: potentially as soon as this coming month," Meson stated.

"You can write anything these days on the Internet," said Philip Devine, Odyssey's chief financial officer. "What I can clearly state is that our total cash on May 13 is well in excess of any of those speculative numbers." He called the Meson report about meeting payroll false. That report sarcastically added that "Stemm's PR background may give him a certain competitive edge in the business of fertilizer production."

While announcing its earnings, Odyssey also cited its credit strength by invoking the name of its "valued commercial banking partner, Fifth Third Bank, headquartered in Ohio." The bank extended a new $10 million general purpose credit facility to Odyssey this past week, Devine said.

Odyssey shares traded as high as $3.70 in the past year and briefly rose above $8 in 2007.

Shares plunge at Tampa treasure hunter Odyssey Marine 05/13/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 10:19pm]

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