Since the financial crisis of 2008, 51Job's U.S.-listed shares have been on a tear, tripling in the last two years alone. This is due in part to the continued growth of the Chinese economy and the great need to fill white collar jobs there. During a pullback in the U.S. markets in May and June, the stock fell to $45 from $63, but it has bounced back sharply in the last couple of weeks and is now trading around $60 a share.
I recently met with Linda Chien, the director of investor relations, in 51job's Shanghai office and I asked her about the staffing company's business, competition, customers and future, among other things.
JACKSON: Can you give an overview of 51job and what's been happening with the stock of late?
Chien: The volatility has been huge. I don't think the movement is anything related to the fundamentals. We have been listed since 2004, so we have seen ups and downs and so we are not over-worried about daily movements. For our business, we focus on providing job search for companies, but we are trying to diversify into H.R. training. Businesses need to think about retaining human assets, and so we will diversify into that business.
In the U.S., we are being compared to Monster all the time, but only part of our businesses is like that. Our target group is on the professionals rather than workers or laborers. Currently, 50% of our business comes from online, 25% is from print, and 25% is from training/campus recruitment/others. The online business overtook print business since the middle of 2009, and it will continue to grow, whereas print will go down.
How did you start and how do you compare yourself with your competitors?
We use an integrated approach. Our business started with print at first. After we had the lead, it is easier for us to attract more customers. Most of our competitors are playing catch-up with us and we have more diversified businesses.
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