Is This Online Retailer the New Amazon.com?
There's an online Chinese e-tailer on a tear, and I'm not talking about dot-com poster child Dangdang .
Shares of LightInTheBox soared 29% last week. The stock has now more than doubled since going public in June at $9.50. At the time, it was the first Chinese company to go public on a stateside exchange this year.
There was no material news on the company to explain the breakout, beyond LightInTheBox announcing on Tuesday that it will be reporting quarterly results later this month.
Dangdang has often been called the Amazon.com of China, but that's not entirely fair. Dangdang isn't the largest Internet retailer in China. It also isn't profitable, and isn't expected to turn that corner until 2015 at the earliest.
LightInTheBox is different. Like Dangdang, it's growing quickly. Revenue rose from $58.7 million in 2010 to $116.2 million in 2011, to more than $200 million last year. Wall Street's holding out for $325 million in net sales this year.
LightInTheBox is also profitable. Analysts see the Web-based merchants earning $0.36 a share this year and $0.68 a share come 2014.
However, there's a bigger reason why LightInTheBox is a better fit as the new Amazon than Dangdang: LightInTheBox is already an international player.
The dot-com speedster may be based out of China, but the lion's share of its sales take place overseas. Europe accounts for a little more than half of its sales, while North America is good for nearly a quarter of its orders. LightInTheBox carries a growing number of items, but its flagship products are wedding gowns, party dresses, and LED-lighting housing fixtures.
Dangdang sells to its home market, and most of its items are low-priced books as it expands into broader general merchandise. LightInTheBox sells big-ticket items that it can source locally at a discount, offering free worldwide shipping if the orders are large enough.
We'll see how LightInTheBox is succeeding in its growth trajectory when it reports a week from today. Naturally, it has big shoes to fill if it ever wants to be the heir apparent to Amazon, but it's taking more than baby steps in the right direction these days.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of LightInThe Box. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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