China's Many Routes to Riches

Travel portal eLong (Nasdaq: LONG  ) -- a Beijing-based subsidiary of Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE  ) -- posted healthy quarterly results yesterday. Revenue rose 30% to $15.7 million. Net income nearly tripled to $0.04 per ADS.

The growth isn't all organic, since eLong has been actively snapping up smaller Chinese travel sites lately. The growth spurt also pales in comparison to market leader Ctrip.com's (Nasdaq: CTRP  ) 46% top-line improvement during the same quarter. However, growth is starting to accelerate at eLong, which is certainly encouraging.

The market may have soured lately on many Chinese equities, but the travel sector continues to hold promise.

Home Inns & Hotels (Nasdaq: HMIN  ) posted a quarterly profit of $0.15 a share earlier this month, more than double what Mr. Market expected. It also managed to boost its RevPAR (revenue per available room -- a popular metric in gauging hoteliers), thanks to higher occupancy levels and higher overnight rates.

Rival budget lodging chain 7 Days Group Holdings (NYSE: SVN  ) also came through with a niche-affirming report this week, wringing out a small profit on a robust 26% revenue gain.

Even the otherwise sleepy IPO market delivered a hot Chinese travel play when China Lodging Group (Nasdaq: HTHT  ) went public two months ago at $12.25. Shares closed at $14.40 yesterday, 18% higher in a time when the market in general has been a bit dicey.

Risk-averse investors that normally don't tread into Chinese small caps may want to consider eLong's balance sheet. The portal is carrying $139.5 million -- or nearly $5.50 per ADS -- in cash and cash equivalents.

You'll find growth and value in many Chinese travel plays that trade on stateside exchanges. You simply need a healthy sense of exploration to find them. Isn't that what travel is all about?

Have you ever traveled to China? Share your experiences in the comment box below.

Ctrip.com International is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy   

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been booking travel online since the 1990s but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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