51job's CEO Discusses Q1 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

05/15/11

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51job's CEO Discusses Q1 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

51job, Inc. (JOBS) Q1 2011 Earnings Call May 5, 2011 9:00 pm ET

Operator

Good morning and good evening ladies and gentlemen thank you for holding. Welcome to the 51job, Incorporated first 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 (Operator Instructions). I will now hand the conference over to Ms. Linda Chien, Assistant Vice President of Investor Relations. Thank you, Madam. Please go ahead.

Linda Chien

Thank you all for attending this teleconference to discuss un-audited financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2011. With me for today?s call are Rick Yan, Chief Executive Officer and Kathleen Chien, Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chief Financial Officer. A press release containing first quarter 2011 results was issued earlier today and a copy may be obtained through our website at ir.51job.com.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that during this call, statements regarding targets for the second 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 expectation 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 second 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 currency; 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 volatilities; 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 second 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 to today?s call. I will begin with highlights of the first quarter, followed by Kathleen with her detailed review of our financial results. I will then discuss current market conditions and recent developments. Finally, we?ll open the call to your questions.

Results for the first quarter came in ahead of guidance as the positive economic climate and robust hiring activity in China throughout demand for our services. We reported total revenues of RMB 325 million or approximately $50 million, an increase of 28% over the first quarter of 2010. We saw solid revenue growth in each business area. The momentum of our online services business remained strong with online revenues increasing 57% year over year.

We have employers across all geographies utilizing our established sales office network to further penetrate existing markets and our Wuhan call center to serve employers in new cities. This two pronged approach has enabled us to acquire new customers more effectively and efficiently than ever. Our print advertising business also performed well in the first quarter. Although, we have discontinued publications in six cities since the beginning of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011; print revenues were better than expected and decreased by 6% due to the exceptionally strong seasonal demand in the post Chinese New Year period.

In our other HR services business we make steady progress in continuing to gain customer attraction. Revenues for the other HR services increased 25% led by growth in outsourcing and training services. While we are very pleased with our top line the greater accomplishment of the first quarter was the meaningful margin expansion that resulted from the revenue of the performance. The record margin efforts highlight the powerful economies of scale and scope we have built into our service model.

Through unrelenting operational discipline and a consistent focus on efficiency improvement which drove gross margin to 70% and operating margin to 35% despite absorbing higher employee compensation expenses and investing in product development and technology innovation. Since our inception 13 years ago we have not wavered from our guiding management principle to realize sustainable profitable growth for our shareholders. We believe this first quarter financial results reflect our continued progress towards this goal.

I would now turn over the call to Kathleen for more detailed financial review.

Kathleen Chien

Thank you, Rick. Revenues for the first quarter totaled RMB325 million, a 28% increase compared to the same quarter in 2010. Our online revenues for the first quarter were RMB173 million, an increase of 57% compared to the same quarter in 2010. The number of unique employers using our online services increased 38% year over year to nearly 155,000 companies in the first quarter due to the strong market demand and our customer acquisition efforts. We also saw a 14% increase in the average revenue per online customer compared to the year ago quarter as employers faced greater competition for talent and thus purchase more services to meet their recruitment targets.

Print advertising revenues decreased 6% to RMB86 million compared with RMB92 million in the first quarter of 2010. The decline was primarily due to the discontinuation of print operations in certain cities over the past year as well as the resulting decrease in page volume. Print advertising pages in the first quarter of 2011 decreased 28% to approximately 2200 pages compared with about 3100 pages in the prior year?s quarter. However, the page volume decrease was largely offset by the higher revenue per page assisted by the strong seasonal demand or average revenue per page increased 31% due to greater contribution from the higher priced cities as well as an increase in print advertising rates in a few cities in the first quarter of 2011.

In line with the historical trends we expect print revenues in the second quarter to decline in both absolute terms and as a percentage of total revenues. We have also terminated the publication in the city of Kunming in April. This reduces the number of cities in which we operate print operations to 15. Our HR services revenues grew 25% to RMB65 million in the first quarter of 2011. We achieved solid growth in our outsourcing and training businesses due to the greater customer acceptance and demand.

Gross profit increased 39% year over year to RMB215 million and gross margin increased to 70% from 64% in the first quarter of 2010. The margin expansion was primarily due to the process improvements and our operating efficiency. Included in cost of services in the first quarter was share based compensation expense of RMB1 million, though the marketing expenses increased approximately 26% year over year to RMB71 million in the first quarter of 2011 mainly as a result of higher employee wages, commissions and bonuses. Included in sales and marketing expenses were share based compensation expenses of approximately RMB0.8 million in the first quarter.

For the second quarter we will be stepping up advertising and brand building activities but we expect sales and marketing expenses to be within the historical range of 25% to 30% of net revenues. G&A expenses for the first quarter were RMB37 million down slightly from the year ago quarter. Share based compensation expense included in G&A in the first quarter was RMB4.3 million, operating income for the first quarter of 2011 increased 77% to RMB 107 million compared with RMB61 million in the same quarter in 2010.

Our operating margin expanded to 35% compared with 25% in the first quarter of 2010. Net income for the first quarter increased 82% to RMB92 million compared with RMB50 million in the same quarter of 2010. Fully diluted earnings were RMB1.55 per common share which is equivalent to $0.47 per ADS. Excluding share based compensation expense, foreign currency translation loss and their related tax impacts our non-GAAP adjusted net income increased 78% year over year to RMB101 million in the first quarter. Non-GAAP adjusted fully diluted earnings per common share were RMB1.71 or $0.52 per ADS.

In late April, we issued stock options to employees and directors at their market value. As a result we expect that share based compensation expense will increase from RMB6 million in the first quarter to approximately RMB10 million in the second quarter. Looking at our balance sheet, our cash and short-term investments increased to RMB1.7 billion or approximately $265 million. Short-term investment consists of certificate of deposit with original maturities from three months to one year. Now I will turn the call back over to Rick.

Rick Yan

Thank you, Chien. Our observations of hiring trends and employer behavior that?s just slightly in 2011 continue to indicate robust market demand. We saw a strong uptick in job listings across the board in a post Chinese New Year period, picking at more than 2 million active job positions. The competition for managerial talent and experienced workers in particular has also become increasingly fierce among employers driving wages increased and greater spending on recruitment services. Amid a backdrop of these favorable market conditions we roll out a new rate card online services which went into effect on April 1. In addition to the introduction of new services and packages we instituted a number of price adjustments which very widely depending on product and city.

As existing customers already under contract will not be subject to these new prices until renewal, the impact of the new rate card would be limited in the second quarter. The length of our online services contracts typically ranges from one month to one year. Therefore, we expect to gradually realize mid-to-high single digit increase in average revenue per customer from the new pricelist through 2011.

While we are taking opportunity to capture some pricing upside we are staying aggressively in our customer acquisition and geographical expansion efforts. In late April, we launched seven new channels to our website adding 13 cities serviced by our Wuhan call center. We now provide dedicated sales coverage and support for our online products to employers in 56 cities. We will further increase our national footprint this year.

Recently, there have been media reports regarding new and potential entrance into the online recruitment space in China. However, to-date the competitive landscape feels generally unchanged to us as we maintain and establish a widely acknowledged market leadership position, to reach knowledge and relationships we have into hundreds of thousands of HR departments is unparalleled. We have leveraged these assets into becoming a trusted partner to corporations across all the human resources needs, not just providing them with an advertising platform.

We know how to compete, we know how to execute and we know how to monetize. With ample financial resources backed by strong balance sheet in our highly experienced call management team, we are confident that we can continue to win. Now turning to our guidance, based on current market and operating conditions, our total revenue target for the second quarter of 2011 is in estimated range of RMB325million to RMB335 million which will be a 26% year-over-year increase at the midpoint. Our estimated non-GAAP fully diluted EPS target is between RMB1.6 to RMB1.7 per common share.

Please note that, if non-GAAP EPS range does not include share based compensation expense, foreign currency translation loss know their related tax impact. As Kathleen mentioned earlier, our share based compensation expense is expected to increase to approximately RMB10 million in the second quarter. This guidance reflects our current forecast which is subject to change. In addition, seasonality in our businesses, we remind you that sequential quarterly comparisons can be misleading, and we believe year-over-year comparisons are more applicable for measuring our financial performance.

Our priorities going forward are crystal clear. We are focused on growing our customer base, increasing revenue opportunities, investing in new product development and delivering solid returns to our shareholders. We believe the stock we have had in 2011 provide further confirmation that we are executing the right strategic plan to develop the most powerful brand in human resources services in China.

That concludes our presentation, we will be happy to take your questions at this stage. Operator?

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