Best Small Cap: Blue Nile

In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, which started Friday in Torino, Italy, The Motley Fool is pitting companies against one another. The writers will outline why their company is the best, and our very own panel of judges will decide the winner after a period of deliberation. Stay tuned for more!

It may seem unusual to laud a company for being "Best Small Cap" when the cap in question got just a little bit smaller last week, but hear me out.

Despite its recent stumble, there are many reasons to believe that Blue Nile is (Nasdaq: NILE  ) still a winner for the long term. We've already seen that type of grace under pressure in the Olympics this week, when China's Zhang Dan fell, picked herself up off the ice, and went on to skate her heart out, helping to win a silver medal for herself and her partner.

Last week, Blue Nile shook up investors by not only missing Wall Street's expectations but warning that its short-term growth will be slower than previously anticipated. Various factors are slowing that growth, most notably the high cost of marketing given what the company described as "frothy" prices for online advertising. Blue Nile said that it has chosen to pursue other avenues for marketing instead of pursuing new customers in a way that very well could end up unprofitable.

It's a bit painful to contemplate Blue Nile shares' 20% plunge following the earnings report, but it's also arguable that now's a great time to buy in to what has been a great growth story. The way things stand now, Blue Nile stands to report revenue growth of 10% to 20% -- true, slower than before, but still nothing to be ashamed of.

Blue Nile's decision not to pay too much for online advertising points to a management team willing to be fiscally conservative and guard profitability. Fools can appreciate this company for its frequent share buybacks, hefty cash load, lack of long-term debt, and considerable insider ownership.

There are other reasons why Blue Nile, a recommendation for both Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Hidden Gems, shouldn't be underestimated for the long term. It blazed onto the scene just six years ago, aiming to compete with the older, more established names in diamonds like Tiffany (NYSE: TIF  ) and Zales (NYSE: ZLC  ) -- and compete it has. Blue Nile has managed to build a well-known brand from scratch in record time -- an impressive feat that makes me think the company has a good shot at coming up with a creative way to push its products without breaking the bank.

Blue Nile also boldly went where no company had gone before. Not only did it prove that men would appreciate the opportunity to use its site to educate themselves on diamonds before making purchases, but it also proved that men would buy high-end jewelry sight unseen. Blue Nile proved the conventional wisdom dead wrong.

Blue Nile has a litany of winning characteristics going for it: a great idea, a history of innovation and incredible performance, a strong balance sheet, and a solid, smart management team. Blue Nile may be all about diamonds, but in this competition, there's no reason it shouldn't get the gold.

For more:

Blue Nileis recommended by both David and Tom Gardner in Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Hidden Gems. To find out more about our newsletter services and figure out which one is right for you, click here for a 30-day free trial.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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