What's the deal, Blue Nile
I'm not happy. Last night's quarterly report was a mess. Net sales inched just 2% higher to $73.7 million. A softer operating margin led to a 15% decline in net income, falling to $3.2 million, or $0.20 a share.
But wait. It gets worse. International sales soared 179% to $8.1 million. That sounds good until you get that passport stamped on the way home. Back that out, and this is the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines in stateside sales.
The market isn't crushed over the news. In fact, it appears relieved. But I'm not as forgiving. Where's the growth, Blue Nile?
Online jewelry auctioneer Bidz.com
Blue Nile has hit a lull before. It posted a pair of bottom-line declines in 2006, and it bounced back.
But this time is different, because we aren't in the best economic climate for high-end diamond engagement rings. And things aren't going to get better anytime soon. Blue Nile is guiding investors to expect mid-single-digit percentage gains in net sales. Its goal is to achieve flat earnings growth on a per-share basis this year, but that will mean a dip in profitability, since the company has been aggressively buying shares this year.
Shares of Blue Nile have still beaten the market since David Gardner made the online retailer his first pick in the Rule Breakers newsletter service nearly four years ago. The company is still on the scorecard, and Blue Nile is still the niche leader. It remains profitable, too. Once the economic lull passes, nervous grooms-to-be will find themselves on bended knee with Blue Nile rings to offer.
I'm not that patient. For now, quite frankly, I'm feeling jilted.
Other proposals to ponder:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz proposed to his eventual wife 19 years ago. He would have had no problem turning to Blue Nile, had there been a commercial Internet around at the time. Rick owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.