Is It Time to Buy Into India?


Investors shouldn't lose sight of the world's second-most-populous nation.

Sify (NAS: SIFY) shares were trading as much as 35% higher today after posting double-digit percentage gains in revenue and EBITDA.

The Indian provider of IT services and solutions saw its revenue climb 13% to roughly $38.9 million. EBITDA popped 18% higher to top $3 million.

Don't let the meaty profit excite you. Back out the one-time gain from the exit of its MF Global Sify Securities India affiliate -- yes, thatMF Global -- and Sify would've posted a small quarterly deficit for the period. Then again, even the push toward nearly breaking even is noteworthy. You have to go back three years to find the last time that Sify served up an annual profit.

Sify has been a largely forgotten stock over the past year. The stock closed yesterday a brutal 73% off of last year's peak.

It's a familiar story. There aren't too many tech-centric companies out of India trading on stateside exchanges, but they're all trading well off their earlier highs. (NAS: REDF) -- the operator of a popular yet slow-growing online portal in India -- has seen its stock shed 80% of its value since peaking last year. MakeMyTrip (NAS: MMYT) may be India's top travel website operator, but it's been doing more descending than ascending since going public two years ago. The stock has surrendered more than half of its value since last year's top.

Investors just aren't feeling the love for India's bustling yet poverty-marred economy.

It's probably not a coincidence that of the nine companies to go public last week, the only one that closed out the week lower was a maker of basmati rice. Amira Nature Foods (NYS: ANFI) was last week's lone busted IPO, and the seller of packaged Indian specialty rice isn't even based out of India.

Sentiment can turn, of course. Rediff shares also popped higher today on Sify's good fortune. The stocks have been beaten down so badly since early last year that even a whiff of good news can trigger a rally.

The potential of India based on population size alone is undeniable. If Sify's reasonable growth is the first step back, it will be a journey that the market may want to consider taking.

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