Vipshop Sets the Stage for Dangdang and LightInTheBox

Vipshop Sets the Stage for Dangdang and LightInTheBox

This will be a great week to gauge the state of e-commerce in China. Flash-sale speedster Vipshop reported quarterly results after Monday's close. Bellwether Dangdang follows with its latest financials on Thursday.

Vipshop didn't disappoint. Net revenue soared 146% to $383.7 million, well ahead of the $364.7 million that analysts were targeting. Great things happen when orders and the number of customers more than double. Vipshop's adjusted profit of $0.26 a share easily topped the pros parked at $0.21 a share.

Vipshop's naturally gaining momentum as brand-conscious deal seekers flock to the fast-growing deals site.

Analysts were taking opposing stances leading up to Vipshop's report. Last week, we had Citigroup push its price target sharply higher, going from $50 to $85. Citi sees Vipshop doubling its warehouse space over the next three years to overcome its capacity constraints. That spike in confidence contrasts Oppenheimer analyst Andy Yeung's decision to downgrade the stock from outerperform to perform.

Yeung's call was based more on valuation than Vipshop's fundamentals, but his note also offered an ominous tone across all of the Chinese e-tailers that trade on stateside exchanges. He lowered his price target on LightInTheBox -- which reports next week -- from $17 to $11.50. He stuck to his bullish rating on LightInTheBox, though that's also a valuation call given the sharp drop in the shares of the Chinese exporter of apparel and housewares since imploding shortly after its IPO. Yeung is also cautious about Dangdang's prospects ahead of Thursday's report.

It's safe to say that Citigroup won this round. Vipshop's outlook calls for $580 million to $590 million in revenue this quarter, a 94% to 97% increase over last year's fourth quarter. Wall Street was settling for $532.6 million.

Vipshop's strong report doesn't necessarily mean that Dangdang and LightIntheBox will follow through with blowout results in the coming days. All three companies are vastly different. Most of Dangdang's stocked items are books. More than 80% of LightInTheBox's sales are made in Europe and North America. However, it's certainly better to see the first of the three Chinese e-tailers come through with strong results. China's shopping, at least when there are great deals to be had.

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