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Paradise Inc. can't make Nasdaq's cut

The ax has already started to fall on Nasdaq companies that don't meet new, tougher listing standards.

Since the stricter guidelines went into effect Feb. 23, Nasdaq has delisted 30 companies, including 18 from its small-cap market and 12 from its main, national market, officials said this week.

Another 413 companies that were out of compliance with the new standards as of Feb. 23 have received warning that their listings could be revoked.

There are more than 5,500 companies listed on the national and small-cap markets. The 30 jettisoned companies include a Plant City candied-fruit company, Paradise Inc., which sells its product to makers of holiday fruitcakes.

"We're just too small," said Eugene Weiner, a Paradise executive vice president. "We kind of slip through the cracks."

Nasdaq and its parent, the National Association of Securities Dealers, strengthened the listing requirements to attract more high-quality companies to its markets and discourage marginal or potentially fraudulent businesses from listing. The new rules include, for some companies, higher required asset levels and market capitalizations, as well as higher minimum stock prices.

But the rules have wound up disqualifying some profitable companies. Paradise, for instance, earned $1.3-million last year.

Its shortcoming? The Plant City company falls short of the new requirement that it keep 500,000 shares in public hands.

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