Yandex investors haven't had much to cheer about recently. The stock is up year to date but still trailing the S&P 500 after a sharp February sell-off tied to disappointing earnings.
But there are signs a rally may be in the works. A new report from comScore says Yandex's home market of Russia's unique website visits surged 15% last year, second only to Italy. Of Europe's 408 million Internet users, 15% are in Russia, the report says.
The message? What the U.S. was is the early days of the Internet, Russia and China are slowly becoming.
According to comScore, 87% of the world's Internet population resides outside the U.S. with 42% in the Asia-Pacific region and 27% in Europe. Russia's growing influence -- and access to smart tools from the likes of Yandex -- may be contributing to the gains in the same way that Baidu has led millions of Chinese online.
Eastern Europe is also a haven for smart devices. According to Flurry Analytics, Ukraine has had a 237% increase in activated Android and iOS devices. Apple and Google have enjoyed considerable success in Russia, where 12 million handsets and tablets using their software were activated last year. According to reports, Apple already partners with Yandex for some localized iOS 6 functions for the Russian market, including Maps.
So that's the good news. The bad is that Yandex insiders are cashing out despite the favorable trends. At the same time, the company plans to repurchase as many as 12 million shares to blunt the impact of the sell-off. As a long-term investor, I'd much rather see management hold firm.
And yet we know from history that insider ownership isn't a perfect indicator. Some of the best stocks of our time were led by founders who didn't own huge stakes in the companies they helped to create. Steve Jobs, for example. Executing on a rich opportunity is always what matters most.
For Yandex, the opportunity couldn't be bigger. All that's left is to execute.
Regardless of your short-term view on Europe in the wake of the Cyprus blow-up, it can pay to look abroad, where right now there may be opportunity in Baidu (a.k.a. the "Chinese Google"). Our brand-new premium report breaks down the dominant Chinese search provider's strengths and weaknesses. Just click here to access it now.
The article 1 Immensely Bullish Sign for Yandex originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Baidu, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Yandex V, Google, and Baidu, and have recommended creating a covered bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.