Shares of Russian tech giant Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX) dropped for a 16% loss on Friday, after Russian news reported that the Kremlin is backing an effort to limit foreign ownership of marquee local tech firms to just 20%.
Yandex shares got a bit of a rebound this morning, however, rising more than 5% in early trading (and still up 1.5% as of 1:05 p.m. EDT) on positive commentary from Bank of America Merrill Lynch...about last week's stock collapse.
As Merrill Lynch explained, reading between the lines of the draft law making its way through the Russian Duma, it sees no explicit requirement that the 20% ownership restriction must limit share ownership per se. Rather, the analyst expressed hope that the bill might be amended and refined to permit Yandex to issue a new class of shares to local owners. That would ensure that voting control of Yandex remains centered in Russia, while limiting any dilutive effect on existing shareholders.
In such a situation, Merrill Lynch believes Yandex stock would remain a buy, and could be worth as much as $50 a share -- about 67% more than what shares cost today, after the sell-off.
But it's essential to note: Merrill is just musing here about what might happen, and has no proof to offer that it will happen. Until we know more about how this will play out, Yandex shares remain a risky bet.