Business in Brief: Rami Levy Snaps Up Controlling Share of Cofix Group at Closeout Price

Wix swings to Q2 profit, raises 2018 outlook ■ Check Point Software’s second-quarter profits up ■ Partner Communications eyeing Leumi Card ■ TASE indexes climb with Bank Leumi shares leading trading volume

A Super Cofix store in Tel Aviv.
Ofer Vaknin

Rami Levy snaps up controlling share of Cofix Group 

Rami Levy Chain Stores wrapped up an agreement on Tuesday evening to acquire a controlling stake in the Cofix Group, the operator of discount retail cafes, from Avi Katz, as well as an increased stake in Cofix’s Super Cofix retail grocery subsidiary. The two sides signed an addendum to their original agreement from January that now gives Rami Levy a 50.01% stake in Cofix rather than the 20% originally agreed upon. The increased stake is being provided in exchange for 1.38% of Rami Levy shares, which are worth 35 million shekels ($9.5 million). The transaction will reduce Katz’s stake in Cofix from 23% to 14.1% and his daughter Hagit Shinover’s stake to 7.6%. Public ownership in the company drops to 13.3%. The amended agreement hands Rami Levy direct or indirect ownership of 65% of Super Cofix shares, an asset that the buyer views as having potential added value. The amended agreement reflects a decline in the financial picture at Cofix, which finished the first quarter of the year with a 3.7 million shekel loss. Rami Levy shares closed down 0.5% on Wednesday at 169.30 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Wix swings to Q2 profit, raises 2018 outlook

Wix.com, which helps small businesses build and operate websites, swung to a profit in the second quarter on higher revenue and raised its revenue forecast for 2018. It posted a quarterly profit on Wednesday of 29 cents a share excluding one-time items, compared with a loss of 2 cents a year earlier. Revenue grew 41% to $146.1 million. Analysts had forecast an adjusted profit of 15 cents per share on revenue of $144.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Tel Aviv-based Wix offers free basic features for setting up websites but users must pay for extra services such as shopping carts, individual web addresses and site traffic analysis. Wix projects 2018 revenue of $597-$599 million, up from a previous estimate of $594-$597 million for a 40-41% gain from 2017. For the third quarter, it estimates revenue of $152-$153 million, up 37-38% from a year earlier. The company has 131 million registered users. (Reuters)

Check Point Software’s second-quarter profits up, as it doubles share buyback plan

Network security provider Check Point Software Technologies reported quarterly net profit that beat expectations, and said it was doubling its overall share repurchase program to $2 billion. The Tel Aviv-based company earned $1.37 per diluted share excluding one-time items in the second quarter, up from $1.26 a year earlier. Revenue grew 2% to $468 million, Check Point said on Wednesday. It was forecast to earn $1.30 a share on revenue of $461.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company said its board has authorized the expansion of its ongoing share repurchase plan by 30% quarterly, up to $325 million, and the overall program by 100% to $2 billion in total. The company has repurchased $7.3 billion worth of shares since 2003. The updated plan expands the existing plan announced last August that provided for buying back up to $250 million each quarter for up to $1 billion, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018. (Reuters)

Partner Communications eyeing Leumi Card

Partner Communications, the cellular service provider controlled by Israeli-American entertainment magnate Haim Saban, continues to show interest Leumi Card, the credit card company that is 80% owned by Bank Leumi. Partner’s board of directors is expected to convene shortly to consider the purchase and the cellular service provider’s chairman, Adam Chesnoff, who is also president and COO of the Saban Capital Group, is due to arrive in Israel in advance of the meeting. Senior Partner Communications executives recently determined that media reports that another potential competitor in the bidding process has a leg up are not correct. Partner is expected to make its bid by August 2. Company officials contend that one of the advantages that Partner has in its effort to buy the credit card company is that it would be a long-term investment and that synergies exist between communications services and fintech. (Michael Rochvarger)

TASE indexes climb with Bank Leumi shares leading trading volume

Shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange were generally up moderately in Wednesday trading. The Tel Aviv-35 index climbed by 0.6% to 1,569.32 while the Tel Aviv-125 added 0.5% to 1,401.95 points. Trading volume was 991 million shekels ($272 million). The Banks 5 index jumped 1.2% to 2,116.11 points and the most heavily traded share of the day was Bank Leumi, which closed up 1.4 % at 22.61 shekels on trading volume of 90.2 million shekels. Shares of Super-Sol were in the spotlight over efforts by major shareholder Discount Investment Corporation to oust Super-Sol’s board chairman. Super-Sol shares finished down 0.2% at 22.16. On the bond market, American real estate firms helped driv down the Tel Bond Global index by 0.5% to 350.79 over concern over future bond repayment. (Assa Sasson)