City File: Guessing game

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The Independent Online
THE QUESTION of whether Boddington will re-bid for Devenish will come to the fore again when Boddington announces interim figures on Wednesday. The odds are that Denis Cassidy, the wily chairman of Boddington, will still keep them guessing.

There are two reasons why Boddington will probably not re-bid at this stage. First, the present climate is hardly conducive to underwriting large cash bids.

Second, Boddington can wait and let its trading performance do the talking. It is a good pub operator, returns from nursing homes have consistently improved, and it is building up an impressive drinks wholesaling operation. Half-year profits should exceed pounds 8m, up from pounds 7.5m last time.

Devenish, largely based in the West Country, has probably had to endure one of the worst summers for many years. Boddington has time on its hands, and its paper looks of decidedly better quality than Devenish's.