Yandex N.V. Delivers Despite Economic Challenges, Google's Gains

By Markets Fool.com

Yandex NV just announced another reasonably solid quarter. But thanks to more of the same macroeconomic and competitive concerns, the market punished shares of the Russian Internet search leader with a more than 6% decline Tuesday.

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Yandex's second-quarter revenue rose 14% year over year, to 13.92 billion Russian rubles (RUR), or $250.7 million -- a slight acceleration from Yandex's 13% year-over-year growth last quarter. Excluding traffic acquisition costs -- which Yandex likens to sales commissions -- revenue rose 15%, representing a slight deceleration from ex-TAC revenue growth of 16% last quarter.

Meanwhile, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization dropped 4% year over year, to 4.8 billion RUR, or $86.8 million, while adjusted net income fell 16%, to 2.8 billion RUR, or $50.3 million. Adjusted net income per share came in at roughly 8.53 RUR.

Both figures were roughly in line with analysts' expectations. So let's dig deeper to see what's driving today's losses.

Strength in face of macro challenges
Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh largely repeated his statements from each of the past two quarters, first highlighting that Yandex's growth was achieved despite a "challenging economic environment."

Yandex was able to grow its total number of advertising clients 9% from last quarter, and 17% year over year, to a total of 351,000. According to Volozh, this growth demonstrates "that contextual advertising remains a highly effective marketing channel for businesses of every size." We should also keep in mind that this was achieved even as total search queries in Russia grew a more modest 2% year over year.

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However, Yandex also continued to lose share in the Russian search market, though it still commanded a dominant 57.3% in the second quarter. For perspective, that's down from 58.6% in the first quarter, and marks Yandex's fifth sequential quarterly decline. According to Yandex's latest charts, that share appears to be continuing to flow toward global search giant Google :

At the same time, we can't forget that, two quarters ago, Yandex filed an antitrust complaint against Google, claiming Big G has engaged in anti-competitive practices. Most troubling, Yandex says, Google was keeping third-party apps from being pre-installed on mobile devices running Android, which itself is easily the most dominant mobile operating system in Russia.That doesn't mean users can't download Yandex's apps after the fact; but at the very least, success here could help level the playing field and slow Google's steady advance.

It also doesn't help that the Russian parliament last month advanced the so-called right-to-be-forgotten bill, which would allow people in the country to request certain information they deem "unreliable" to be removed from search results, as well as any information more than three years old. If signed into law, the bill would impose significant regulatory costs on companies in violation of such requests. Yandex, for its part, has protested the bill, saying demanding removal of certain links "opens the door the numerous opportunities for misuse, as it doesn't require any evidence or justification."

Looking forward
Whether that bill ultimately becomes a law remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, Yandex resumed providing full-year guidance -- a practice it previously suspended due to "limited visibility in light of the macroeconomic situation. As it stands, Yandex expects full-year 2015 revenue growth of 11% to 13%, resulting in a new guidance range of 56.4 billion RUR to 57.4 billion RUR. Unfortunately, Wall Street was more optimistic, calling for 2015 revenue to increase 14.6% year over year, to 58.2 billion RUR.

Yandex's quarterly results were not terrible. But given the combination of continued macroeconomic pressure, Google's gradual encroachment on Yandex's home turf, and uncertainty stemming from unfavorable legislation, it's no surprise investors are clicking away from Yandex stock today.

The article Yandex N.V. Delivers Despite Economic Challenges, Google's Gains originally appeared on Fool.com.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Yandex. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). 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.