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Cogent Systems & Venezuela

By Miguel Octavio

28.10.04 - A stock tip (or corruption tip?) and other stories...

-Chavez cancels his trip to see Uribe and Torrijos because of the lame excuse of the fire in Parque Central on October 27th. The excuse is that some of the Ministers that had to accompany him had their offices in that building. I hope the Minister of Commerce and Production did, he is so dumb that he actually said that within a few years (a few is a few, not many) tourism will be as important to Venezuela as oil. I imagine he meant that if the price of oil is going to less than a buck; it would be the only way that his prediction may become true.

-A friend sends me this press release telling me that Cogent the “fingerprint capture machine” company has been awarded a US$ 20 million follow on contract by the Venezuelan Electoral Board. I imagine a “follow on” contract means a contract smaller than the previous one, since I don’t remember how much the previous contract was I look around and find a reference in El Universal to a US$ 53 million contract with Cogent. But the problem is, according to Cogent’s financials, the company had revenues of only US$ 15.39 million in the first quarter of the year and US$ 17.02 million in the June quarter, for a total of US$ 32 million, so my guess is that on Nov. 1st. Cogent will have to report at least US$ 21 million in revenues or somebody is on the take, no?

So, here you have it, this is either a stock tip or a corruption tip, if Cogent does not report spectacularly on Nov. 1st. somebody made a lot of money on this no-bid contract awarded by the CNE. Of course, the numbers will show if Cogent’s “only” client is the CNE, so it should report even more.

Digging a little further into the issue I find that Cogent went public only in September and this will be the first time it ever reports earnings. So this might be a one time shot of the company going public thanks to a one time revenue infusion owing to the no-bid contract of the CNE. Even more interesting, if you look at Cogent’s website or the S-1 filed with the SEC when the IPO came out, the word Venezuela never appears. Interesting, no?

I guess anywhere else this will raise eyebrows, but this is the Venezuela where the most important company in the country (PDVSA) assured everyone that it would file its financials in October and guess what? Monday will be November and we are still waiting for them, but who cares, a billion here or a billion there…

-The final suit/injunction against the regional elections was rejected by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, (surprise, surprise!). Once again, the Court avoids a ruling on the legality of the elections by not admitting it due to procedural reasons and not the elections themselves. These guys are good.

-Kerry asks Chavez to stop political persecutions, ending Chavez’ dream that a Bush loss would be to his advantage.

So, I send my laptop to be fixed tomorrow and go away for a few days, I will update once in a while via e-mail which does not allow me to do great formatting, basically because to do it I would have had to call CANTV and have my IP number be fixed and a lot of techie mumbo jumbo that would have probably never worked anyway. I am worried about violence on Sunday. There has never been much violence in Venezuelan elections before, but when the polls close this Sunday, many will try to count all the ballots and they will not be allowed to do so and tempers will flare and then…?

Note added: Actually, looking at the numbers of the Cogent contract from El Universal and the dates involved, the contract was awarded in June, threfore it could not have contributed to the company's revenues in March. In the July quarter Cogent reported US$ 17 million in revenues. If we assume that ALL of this was from the CNE contract (unlikely), then Cogent should report on Monday at least US$ 36 million in revenues, unless something fishy is going on with this contract. That would be a blowout quarter for the company. Which will it be? Stay tuned...

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