There are no signs of slowing down at 51job (NASDAQ: JOBS). The Shanghai-based provider of online recruitment services came through with its fifth consecutive quarter of accelerating growth, posting another period of better-than-expected financial results after Thursday's market close. The stock finds itself within spitting distance of the all-time high it hit less than a month ago.
Revenue clocked in at a record $109.5 million, up 22.4% since the prior year's showing. 51job was only targeting $101 million to $104 million for its top line. A company posting year-over-year growth of 22.4% may not seem like much in light of China's glitzier dot-com darlings, but this is actually the heartiest revenue uptick at 51job since 2011.
The pace of 51job's top-line growth continues to accelerate. It went from posting 10.2% growth during the second quarter of last year to 13.3%, 13.6%, 16%, 20.3%, and now 22.4% in subsequent periods.
Working for a living
There was near-perfect balance among 51job's two businesses. Online recruitment services -- accounting for 67% of its revenue -- rose 22.5% during the period. Other human resource-related revenue climbed at a 22.1% clip.
Growth had been depressed since the second quarter of last year when a value-added tax or VAT policy change went into effect in May of last year. 51job lapped that headwind midway through this year's second quarter, making this the first period since the first quarter of last year when year-over-year comparisons are truly comparable.
The news gets even better as we work our way down the income statement, as expanding gross margin and a 37% pop in operating income resulted in adjusted earnings of $0.50 a share. 51job's earlier outlook was calling for an adjusted profit of $0.46 to $0.49 a share, so once again we see 51job exceeding expectations on the top and bottom lines.
51job's outlook for the new quarter calls for an adjusted profit of $0.59 to $0.62 a share on $124 million to $127 million in revenue. We'll be looking at decelerating top-line growth even if it lands at the high end of its range -- the outlook implies 18% to 21% growth -- but it should still be 51job's 11th quarter in a row of double-digit revenue growth. If it lands near the high end, it would be the third straight period of posting at least 20% top-line growth. 51job knows a thing or two about hiring, and for now, it's getting the job done.
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