Cupid – This Gets Very interesting: Scotland vs Ukraine

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Cupid (LSE:CUP) has today issued a statement denying that it the Scottish headquartered online dating agency does anything wrong. I quote in full:

Cupid plc strongly refutes all allegations that its business model or practices and procedures are in any way fundamentally flawed, inappropriate or illegal. The directors believe that there has been a great deal of misrepresentation and ill-informed speculation in the marketplace and the Company is currently taking legal advice on these matters.”

The critical allegations are those made in a Kyivpost.com article of 15th March. The journalist responsible has confirmed by email that she is prepared to go to court to defend her story. I quote: “We have evidence of this which we will be happy to present in court, if required.”

In a libel case contemporaneous notes are regarded as valid evidence. And so I today contacted the editor of this esteemed publication, a Mr Brian Bonner, to see if this was the current state of affairs. We chatted on the phone and have swapped emails in which he says of his story:

I’m confident about its accuracy and about what the reporter found….moreover, the story’s findings seem to be confirmed by the numerous, similar complaints from customers and stories elsewhere, including the BBC.”

But Brian, do you have notes to back this up?

The story is well-documented and well-reported.”

In other words, Mr Bonner and his publication does have notes.

I see that Cupid’s promotion machine is in full swing today on the back of its statement. Joint house broker Numis has run a note headlined “Is the accuser always holy now?” To sanctimonious research analyst Ivor Jones I ask the simple question: have you bothered to speak to the Kyivpost to see whether it stands by its story? Or do you regard “research” as merely running with one side of the story?

If Cupid wishes to clear this matter up I suggest that the big four accountantcy firm investigating this saga should trot along to the offices of kyivpost.com and ask if they can chat to undercover reporter Svitlana Tuchynska and ask if they might see her notes. While the board, and Ivor the puff engine Jones has prejudged the investigation without access to such notes, I would assume that an independent study would wish to investigate the claims in rather more detail.

While I am on the matter of Cupid, I suggest that those celebrating the shares heading back to 84p might wish to have a quick look at the excellent BronteBlog which is no doubt being examined by Cupid’s lawyers too – check it out here

Finally, as a simple man I am now getting confused by another matter which Ivor or someone might care to explain to me – trade receivables. These stood at c£10 million at the year end (c45 days). Now as I understand it Cupid customers pay upfront to access a service by credit card. And having clarified the matter of telephone calls, it is now clear that 100% of Cupid PLC’s revenues come from online subscriptions with customers paying BEFORE they utilise Cupid’s invaluable services.

In every business I have ever worked for it has taken c2-4 working days for a credit card payment to hit our bank account. Why does it take 45 days for a subscription fee to hit the Cupid bank account? I am sure there is a rational explanation and I am only asking that it be explained in terms simple enough for me to understand.

I note that bear raider Evil Knievil has added to his short position today and I would not be disagreeing with that strategy at all.

Tom Winnifrith writes for 10 US and UK publications and you can follow his thoughts on twitter @tomwinnifrith and also by links from his personal blog at www.TomWinnifrith.com

Tom’s premium site which contains all his best ideas first is The Nifty Fifty which he coproduces with ex t1ps senior editor Steve Moore and the UK’s most cerebral short seller Lucian Miers. You can get more details on the Nifty Fifty here

 

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Comments

  1. Mr long says:

    Tom you are a cock! Lol

  2. Jeremy C. says:

    I cannot comment on Cupids trade receivables for current year as I do not think the full detailed accounts,as oppossed to prelims are yet available;however if we look at the full accounts for previous Year to 31/12/2011 which may give a guide to make up.
    We have £9,611,000 Trade & other receivables due made up as follows;£2,428,000 due from related parties;£4,989,000 as other trade receivables and £2,194,000 were prepayments.None being due for more than a year.It might tend to indicate that a third party was processing some payments at the time as one might not expect such a high figure on normal credit card payments due based on the turnover.

  3. Nathan says:

    IAC (Match.com’s parent) and Betfair have 25-28 days outstanding trade receivables. Internet collection for dating and gambling sites can be complicated and often require third parties.

    I’m sure Tom will be fed another piece of information that a) we can all see from past bearish blogs and b) could have been analyzed at any time in the past year. The real truth here is that Cupid’s (and other internet companies’) business model has its idiosyncrasies that need to be proper;y understood, rather than glossed over.

  4. rafomania says:

    When’s “Cupid” the novel coming out tom?

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