But there are signs a rally may be in the works. A new report from comScore says Yandex's home market of Russia's unique website visits surged 15% last year, second only to Italy. Of Europe's 408 million Internet users, 15% are in Russia, the report says.
The message? What the U.S. was is the early days of the Internet, Russia and China are slowly becoming.
According to comScore, 87% of the world's Internet population resides outside the U.S. with 42% in the Asia-Pacific region and 27% in Europe. Russia's growing influence -- and access to smart tools from the likes of Yandex -- may be contributing to the gains in the same way that Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has led millions of Chinese online.
Eastern Europe is also a haven for smart devices. According to Flurry Analytics, Ukraine has had a 237% increase in activated Android and iOS devices. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google have enjoyed considerable success in Russia, where 12 million handsets and tablets using their software were activated last year. According to reports, Apple already partners with Yandex for some localized iOS 6 functions for the Russian market, including Maps.
So that's the good news. The bad is that Yandex insiders are cashing out despite the favorable trends. At the same time, the company plans to repurchase as many as 12 million shares to blunt the impact of the sell-off. As a long-term investor, I'd much rather see management hold firm.
And yet we know from history that insider ownership isn't a perfect indicator. Some of the best stocks of our time were led by founders who didn't own huge stakes in the companies they helped to create. Steve Jobs, for example. Executing on a rich opportunity is always what matters most.
For Yandex, the opportunity couldn't be bigger. All that's left is to execute.