If you're looking for growth-stock stories in the world's second-most-populous country, you may want to ask Rediff.com (Nasdaq: REDF ) to quit blocking your line of sight.
This morning's report was another disappointment from the company behind the India Online portal, which delivers Internet news and information to residents in India and expatriates living in the United States.
Revenue inched just 7% higher to $9.1 million, with a 14% decline in stateside publishing weighing down a 14% uptick over at India Online. The showing missed Wall Street's $9.3 million target. Earnings clocked in at $0.03 a share, below both the $0.07 a share it earned last year and the $0.04 a share that analysts were expecting.
Rediff has proven that it's not India's Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) or Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU ) . It hasn't even proven itself much of a growth stock. Rediff has failed to post year-over-year growth in earnings per share for four straight quarters now.
In a tech-sharp country like India, with 1.2 billion residents, the Internet would seem to be a logical growth story. Unfortunately, industry stocks like Rediff and Sify (Nasdaq: SIFY ) are now trading in the single digits.
You'll find Indian stocks in a funk even beyond cyberspace. Telco provider Mahanagar (NYSE: MTE ) and IT outsourcing specialist Patni (NYSE: PTI ) are also fetching less than half of their 52-week highs. However, growth investors expected more from a company like Rediff, which was perfectly positioned to cash in on the Internet revolution. As the Indian economy improves, shouldn't leisurely pursuits like Internet usage be shooting through the roof? Perhaps, but Rediff isn't seeing it.
And don't go thinking that just because Rediff isn't a growth stock, it's somehow a value stock by default. Earnings for all of fiscal 2008 at Rediff came in at $0.17 a share, pricing the stock at a lofty 50 times profits.
If investors won't buy Rediff, who will? Last year's buyout chatter was either all talk, or a close shave for the lucky suitor who walked away.
In the end, it's hard to talk investors out of the obvious investing potentials in India. I'm not about to turn my back on Rediff completely, but I am going to hold out for a few quarters of bottom-line growth before I hop on the bandwagon.
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