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Can E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (DANG) Keep It Up?

Shares of E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG) were among last week’s biggest winners, moving 10% higher after slipping in recent weeks.

E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG)

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for investors.

The Chinese online retailer traded as low as $3.70 in April, more than tripling four months later to peak at $12 in early August. Then came the drop. Just 13 trading days later, the stock had fallen 36% to bottom out at $7.68.

September has been kinder, and E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG) shares have been bouncing back into favor.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the stock bottomed out the day that JPMorgan Chase downgraded the stock late last month. It isn’t the first time that Wall Street was either too early or too late in making a call.

However, now that E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG) has started to bounce back, can it stick?

One thing that’s been holding E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG) back is its lack of profitability. Its latest quarter was generally solid. Revenue climbed 24%, ahead of expectations. The online retailer’s deficit narrowed to $0.13 a share, and that too was better than the pros were expecting.

Another stumbling block has been that E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG) — as China’s leading bookseller these days — relies too heavily on low-priced books to drive its business. The e-tailer served 15 million orders during the quarter, but divide that tally into its $243.3 million in revenue and you find E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG) generating a little more than $16 in revenue per order.

That’s actually a big improvement from the $12 revenue per order that it was averaging at the time of its IPO three years ago, and higher-priced general merchandise continues to grow faster than its original media business. However, until Dangdang turns consistently profitable it will be dogged by naysayers wondering if the fast-growing Internet retailer will ever turn a profit.

It’s not as if being in the black is everything when it comes to Chinese e-tailers. Lightinthebox Holding Co Ltd-ADR (NYSE:LITB) and Vipshop Holdings Ltd – ADR (NYSE:VIPS) are both profitable, but both stocks stumbled this summer after providing weak revenue outlooks. At least, Dangdang can argue that it bested expectations on that front with its forecast for the current quarter landing just above where the pros were perched.

The comparisons to LightInTheBox and Vipshop Holdings Ltd – ADR (NYSE:VIPS) aren’t entirely fair.

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