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Are These 3 Stocks as Sickly as They Look?: Yandex NV (YNDX) and More

The markets were enjoying an up day yesterday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 54 points to hit a five-year high of 14,035, buoyed as it was by upbeat news of the expansion of General Electric Company (NYSE:GE)‘s health-care division into the Japanese market. The following three companies, however, looked in need of a doctor, as they were among the more notable decliners yesterday leading the way sharply lower.


Company % Change
Digital Generation (NASDAQ:DGIT) (28.2%)
Yandex NV (NASDAQ:YNDX) (10.1%)
Sandstorm Gold (7.7%)

Now don’t go running over the cliff with them like a bunch of lemmings: it could just be a temporary situation. Let’s first see whether they had good reason to fall, as panic-fueled routs can sometimes lead to excellent buying opportunities.

On the precipice
Acquisitions have been what separated Digital Generation from its rivals. Trying to add online advertising to a portfolio of traditional television accounts, the advertising middleman embarked on a number of acquisitions over the past few years that bulked up its digital revenues. Television accounted for 92% of DG’s revenues in 2010, and now digital represents more than one-third of them today.

The biggest acquisition it tried to engineer, however, was itself. After hiring Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) to conduct a “strategic review” and approaching some 45 potential buyers over the course of a year, no one was interested. After noting that it failed to produce a buyer for itself, DG said it will remain an independent company, which led to the sell-off in the stock yesterday. That, and the fact that it also recorded a fourth-quarter loss, as it took an $11.4 million charge on goodwill related to the acquisitions it made.

I’ve pointed out before that the industry is poised to undergo a change on how ad rates are set online because they’re based on “impressions,” an imprecise term of art that AdWeek says is mostly less than a second. DG touts that its online segment surpassed more than 1 trillion impressions last year, but revenues still fell 4%.

With online advertising expected to grow to $8 billion by 2016, there is a market for its services, but how it ultimately translates that into cash for itself could become more of a challenge.

Maybe it doesn’t have the same cachet as being the “Google of China,” but Yandex, the “Google of Russia,” has also been a growth stock over the past year, rising 57% from its low point last June — until yesterday’s sell-off, that is, over fears that the market has matured and it won’t see the same  phenomenal gains it enjoyed in the past.

The Russian search engine, which is the largest in the country with a 60% share of the market, reported revenues came in a 2.69 rubles, well short of the 2.96 rubles analysts had anticipated, while also saying it expected sales to grow just 28% to 32% in 2013. While Wall Street was already expecting growth to slow, Yandex’s cautious outlook was below even their muted expectations of a 33% increase.

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