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Will Facebook Frenzy Fizzle for China Internet Stocks?

Shares of DANG, mislabeled as the "Amazon of China," have now roughly doubled in the past month, despite several negative developments which may significantly impact earnings. The raging price war between DANG, TaoBao and 360Buy.com has intensified according to articles in the Chinese press. Each party continues to cut prices and the others continue to match. The price war was cited as the reason why DANG swung to a Q3 loss last year, significantly impacting the stock price. And now it's getting worse. Revenues are almost certain to grow substantially in Q4 (perhaps exceeding guidance), but it is almost absolutely certain that the net loss will widen substantially due to price cuts.

A second negative development in Q4 was a data leak involving 12 million DANG customers. In China, electronic payments have been slower to catch on and DANG often transacts on a "cash on delivery" basis. Data thieves would actually find out what product a customer had ordered, show up at their house and deliver a cheap substitute and then collect the cash and leave. When the real delivery showed up later, both the customer and the delivery person had a bit of a surprise. So far, DANG isn't providing reimbursement, and customer backlash has been significant.

Some of these stocks, notably DANG, RENN and YOKU look like they are set up to keep flying higher for some time due to the Facebook frenzy. Many investors will be tempted to go on a quick ride, and it could be possible to make a quick buck in the next few days if the stocks don't immediately pull back. However at some point in time, it could be a few days or a few weeks, these stocks will have to trade at a valuation which reflects their results and not simply the hype for Facebook.

Despite its convenient nickname, RENN is not Facebook. Not by a very long shot. However, valuing the company at just cash per share was certainly too cheap in December. $5 is probably not unfair for a company with this much cash, but it still remains to be seen how quickly RENN is burning the cash and what it plans to do with it. The fact that RENN never bought back shares when it was trading at cash value gives a bit of insight into management's views for RENN's prospects.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
DANG $8.96 2.20%
RENN $2.52 0.60%
YOKU $16.44 0.49%
AAPL $128.76 -0.46%
FB $79.98 0.48%

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DOW 18,048.67 -154.70 -0.85%
S&P 500 2,091.66 -16.12 -0.76%
NASDAQ 4,945.8970 -34.0040 -0.68%

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