NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If investors missed out on buying Google ( GOOG) when it went public at $85 -- it's now trading above $500 -- they have another chance to get in early with Yandex, the Russian version of the Internet search giant. Yandex is scheduled to go public on Tuesday in a $1.1 billion deal. The company's stock will be listed on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol "YNKD" and the offering price is expected to be roughly $21 per share. There's a precedent for excitement. China's Baidu.com ( BIDU) priced its initial public offering at $27 per share back in 2005 and the stock closed Friday's regular session at $134.69. Of course, Baidu.com was helped when the Chinese government essentially kicked Google out of the country and gave the company a monopoly. The Russians aren't impeding access to Google. In 2010, Yandex handled 64% of all search traffic in Russia and was the largest internet company in the country on an annual revenue basis. Google opened its first office in Russia in 2006, and now has a 22% market share of search traffic. But that doesn't mean the stock carries little risk. Francis Gaskins, President of the IPO Desktop, has some concern over competition. Mail.ru, the main local player, inked a partnership agreement with Google in 2009 but since then it's created its own search platform, and appears to be gaining traction. There are also the international versions of Microsoft's ( MSFT) Bing and Yahoo ( YHOO) to deal with. On the social networking front, Yandix is up against Facebook and Mail.ru's Kvkontakte. The other concern for IPO Desktop's Gaskins is heightened cold war rhetoric from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He suggests investors consider being a short-term player when it comes to Yandix. Gaskins thinks the stock's projected price range of $20 to $22 is fair. The range implies a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 43X. That's roughly in the middle of Google's at 20X and Baidu's at 68X. Of course, given the frenzy that engulfed LinkedIn ( LNKD) last week, Yandex could be the recipient of some residual excitement, and that P-E ratio could swell pretty quickly. LinkedIn priced its offering well above its projected range, coming to market at $45 per share, and the stock finished Friday up more than 100% at $93.09.
Yandex plans to use the proceeds of its offering that aren't going to existing shareholders to invest in its technology infrastructure, especially new servers and data centers. According to the prospectus that Yandex filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company had 38.3 million unique visitors in March. The financials also look good with Yandex posting a profit of $29 million on revenue of $137 million for the three months ended in March. Valuation will probably be the biggest factor when the stock makes its debut. If the pricing is significantly above range, the shares could quickly become a risky proposition. -- Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.
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