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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Aug. 23

3. LightInTheBox Bungle

LightInTheBox (LITB - Get Report) management must be out of their minds! Everybody on Wall Street knows that your first post-IPO earnings report should not be light on the bottom line.

It should be in the bag.

Shares of the Chinese online retailer plummeted 40% to $11.58 Tuesday, after it forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates as a result of tepid wedding and prom dresses sales. The company projected third-quarter revenue of $68 to $70 million, below the average analyst estimate of $75.8 million.

Outside its underwhelming Q3 guidance, LightInTheBox also failed right out of the box in its Q2 results. Excluding items, the company earned 5 cents per share on sales of $72.2 million. The Street's pencil-pushers were expecting 6 cents on revenue of $75.8 million.

LightInTheBox, in case you forgot, was the first Chinese company to go public in the U.S. this year and only the second since Vipshop (VIPS) took the plunge 15 months ago. LightInTheBox ADRs priced at $9.50 each back on June 6th and finished at $11.61 on their opening day. The shares climbed as high as $23 before crashing this week.

"We concluded that we placed too much emphasis on higher-end (apparel) and not enough focus on lower-end products that traditionally sell very well," Chief Executive Quji Guo told analysts on Tuesday. "We expect to correct our issues in time for the next wedding and prom season in the first and second quarters of 2014."

Guo tell it to somebody who cares.

American investors were already petrified of Chinese IPOs after a rash of them turned to mud a few years ago thanks to the research reports of Muddy Waters, aka Carson Block. The accounting on some of those new issues was near criminal and a number of those companies eventually folded, delisted or simply melted away.

LightInTheBox's problems were cost related, not accounting shenanigans (as far as we know). Still, this particular IPO was supposed to change that risky perception and offer proof to skeptical investors that Chinese securities could in fact be trusted.

In that way, LightInTheBox really should have lit the way for a new round of safer, more evolved Chinese companies to list on U.S. exchanges.

Unfortunately, this LightInTheBox earnings blow-up may put those offerings back on the shelf.
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