51job, Inc. ( JOBS)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

November 9, 2011 8:00 PM ET


Linda Chien – Assistant VP, IR

Rick Yan – President and CEO

Kathleen Chien – Acting CFO, COO and Co-Founder


Timothy McHugh – William Blair

Wendy Huang – RBS

Wallace Cheung – Credit Suisse

Chun Zhao – SIG

Joseph Tse – FIL Investment



Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for holding. Welcome to the 51job Inc. Third Quarter 2011 Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Instructions will be provided at that time. (Operator Instructions)

I will now hand the conference over to Ms. Linda Chien, Head of Investor Relations. Thank you, ma’am. Please go ahead.

Linda Chien

Thank you, Maggie, and thank you all for attending this teleconference to discuss unaudited financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2011. With me for today’s call are Rick Yan, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Kathleen Chien, Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chief Financial Officer. A press release containing third quarter results was issued earlier today and a copy may be obtained through our Web site at ir.51job.com.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that during this call, statements regarding targets for the fourth quarter of 2011, future business and operating results constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as amended and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon management’s current expectations and actual results could differ materially.

Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ are the number of recruitment advertisements placed; sales orders received and customer contracts executed during the remaining weeks of the fourth quarter of 2011; any accounting adjustments that may occur during the quarterly close; fluctuations in the value of the renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies; behavioral and operational changes of customers in meeting their human resource needs, as they respond to evolving social, economic and political changes in China, as well as stock market volatility; introduction by competitors of new or enhanced products or services; price competition in the market for the various human resource services that the company provides in China; acceptance of new products and services developed or introduced by the company outside of the human resources industry; and fluctuations in general economic conditions.

For additional information on these and other factors that may affect the company’s financial results, please refer to the Risk Factor section of the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 51job undertakes no obligation to update targets prior to announcing final results for the fourth quarter of 2011 or as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Now, I’ll turn the call over to Rick.

Rick Yan

Thank you, Linda, and welcome, everyone, to today’s call. I will begin with highlights of the third quarter, followed by Kathleen with a detailed review of our financial results. Then I’ll discuss current market conditions and our guidance. Afterwards, we’ll open the call to your questions.

Our third quarter performance was characterized by solid revenue growth and profitability. Total revenues for the third quarter was RMB343 million or approximately US54 million, a 26% increase over the year-ago quarter and on a similar trajectory as the first half of 2011

Leveraging scale economies, we expanded our gross margin, reaching a record high of 72.4% in the third quarter, despite continued investment in product development, head count additions and increased employee expenses.

Net income in the third quarter increased 55% compared to the year ago period. Our non-GAAP EPS was at the high end of our guidance coming in at RMB1.9 or U.S. US0.59 per ADS.

Taking a closer look at each business area, our online business continued to exhibit a strong growth trend as revenues increased 49% year-over-year. During the quarter, we extended our dedicated sales coverage and seeded those local markets for new customer acquisition efforts. We now have over 2,200 sales people directly engaging HR managers in 75 cities across Mainland China, 25 cities with physical offices and 50 cities covered by Wuhan call center. We also saw further improvement in average revenue per online employer in the quarter due to greater demand and successful transition to our new price list put in place this April.

We raised online ARPU to RMB1,285 in the third quarter and it is back within the historical range of RMB1,200 to RMB1,300 that we had maintained before the global financial crisis. The significant pickup in ARPU is a positive sign, which indicates to us that the recruitment market remains tight, especially for managerial grade staff as employers compete against each other for talent. In addition, we note in particular that the ARPU increase was led by enterprises of larger size or budget, as they spend more to attract the best candidates.

Another highlight of the quarter was the growing contribution of our other HR services to total revenues. The other HR services area is on pace to meaningfully overtake our print businesses this year. The nature of the core revenues generated in other HR services area tends to be more recurring and less cyclical, providing a positive counter balance to our recruitment revenues. We are making strong and steady progress in rolling out our outsourcing and training services to more employers in China.

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