They're Still Hiring in China


The transformation of 51job (NAS: JOBS) from a fledgling publisher of weekly job listings in city newspapers into a human resources juggernaut continues.

51job came through with another strong quarter. Revenue climbed 27% to $51.4 million, but that doesn't really portray the growth story here accurately.

51job continues to retreat from the 51job Weekly print missives that initially put it on the map. Its print revenue declined 28% to $8 million -- or less than 16% of its total revenue -- as it bows out of its arrangement with city newspapers.

Its real world human resources endeavors, largely business process outsourcing and training services, rose 43% to $12.4 million. It's not bigger than 51job's old-school print business, but even that isn't the real difference maker here.

51job's online recruitment revenue soared 49% to $31 million, accounting for a thick 60% slice of the company's revenue mix pie. 51job's master plan of providing a suite of end-to-end human resource solutions has never been more on track.

51job isn't alone in China, but when you're toiling away in the world's most populous nation it doesn't matter that you compete against China Career Builder, Monster's (NYS: MWW) partly owned, and several other smaller players to get noticed. There are more than enough job openings to go around.

51jobs isn't cheap, trading at 29 times this year's projected earnings and 24 times next year's Wall Street target.

Investors can pick up employment enablers closer to home -- including TrueBlue (NYS: TBI) , Heidrick & Struggles (NAS: HSII) , and Robert Half (NYS: RHI) -- at more attractive forward multiples in the teens. However, they're not growing as quickly as 51job, and that's before we begin adjusting for the deliberately fading print business that continues to be a smaller needle mover with every passing quarter.

51job is looking to earn between $0.56 a share and $0.59 a share in non-GAAP earnings for the current quarter with $51.8 million to $53.4 million in revenue. This doesn't represent much in sequential growth, but analysts were only banking on an adjusted profit of $0.53 a share on $52.2 million in revenue.

The guidance could have been stronger after a blowout quarter, but it's still a snazzy-looking resume for 51job.

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At the time thisarticle was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of 51job. 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. Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes in Chinese growth stocks but he does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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Originally published