Good morning, it's Paul here, I'm on duty this week.

Estimated completion time today is 4pm. So please check back later for the completed report. Update at 16:40 - today's report is now finished.

I see there is another takeover bid of a UK-listed mid-cap, Sophos (LON:SOPH) - a cybersecurity group. It's being bought (for cash, in a recommended [by its Directors] deal) at a 37% premium, for about £2.84bn.  It seems as if mid-caps is the most interesting area for takeover bids. Although Sophos looks very expensive, so the bidder must have been attracted by something that's not obvious from the figures.

Cake Box Holdings (LON:CBOX)

Share price: 165p  (down 3% today, at 11:43)
No. shares: 40.0m
Market cap: £66.0m

Half-year trading update

Cake Box Holdings plc, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, today announces its half year trading update for the six months ended 30 September 2019.

These cakes are suitable for vegetarians, but not vegans, because they use cream as a topping. I believe the egg-free cakes are suitable for Sikhs & Muslims, some of whom apparently don't eat eggs. All in all, I'm surprised that Cake Box shops are economically viable, given that the market must be fairly small & niche.

It's an in line update today;

The Group has continued to grow strongly during the period, both through its existing estate and the addition of new stores and expects to report revenues for the period up c.6% to c.£8.8m compared to the same period last year (HY18: £8.3m).

Within this, like-for-like sales* in existing franchise stores grew by 6.9%. As a result, the Board is confident that the Group will meet current market expectations for the year.

Something above strikes me as rather odd. H1 revenues are up 6%, and LFL sales in existing stores are up more, 6.9%. This would normally imply that there must have been a small contraction in the number of stores. Yet it refers to new stores having been opened. No mention is made of closures, so I wonder if some stores have closed, offsetting new openings?

Having a think about this, I reckon it could be something to do with the franchise model which means that revenues are generated from selling supplies to existing franchisees,…

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