In China, there are still plenty of jobs to fill, despite the country's decelerating economic growth and rumblings about international trade discord. A good proxy to gauge the hiring market in the world's most populous nation is 51job (NASDAQ:JOBS), and the Shanghai-based provider of online recruitment services came through with another quarter of healthy gains after Wednesday's market close. 

51job is chiming in with fourth-quarter revenue of $100 million, breaking into nine figures (on a U.S. dollar-based basis) for the first time and 13.6% ahead of the prior year's showing. The performance finds it landing on the upper end of its earlier guidance, though the strengthening dollar versus the yuan blurs things a bit. We're still seeing accelerating top-line growth, as 51job's year-over-year gains were 10.2% in the second quarter and 13.3% during the third quarter. 

Both of 51job's major internet-fueled businesses clocked in with double-digit growth. Online recruitment services -- accounting for 61% of the revenue mix -- managed to grow at a 15% clip since the prior year's showing. Other human-resources-related revenue checked in with a more modest 11.8% gain. China had a new value-added-tax policy change that went into effect last May, weighing down 51job's revenue-generating potential. The comparisons will get more realistic once we get a year past the policy change in a few months, but double-digit growth in this climate is a pretty impressive achievement.

51job's headquarters building.

Image source: 51job.

The bottom line

Wednesday's report extends 51job's streak of double-digit growth in revenue to seven straight quarters. The workplace matchmaker has posted double-digit top-line growth in 15 of the past 16 quarters, and the growth has been steady. Quarterly revenue gains haven't broken out above the high teens in that stretch. 

51job's bottom-line results aren't keeping pace with the revenue gains despite the scalable nature of its Web-tethered businesses. Gross margin contracted and operating margin was held back, resulting in a 12.2% gain in income from operations.

51job still wound up landing ahead of its guidance that three months ago was calling for an adjusted profit of $0.46 to $0.49 a share. Its adjusted earnings clocked in at $0.52 a share for the fourth quarter.  

Its outlook for the current quarter calls for an adjusted profit of $0.37 to $0.40 a share on between $85.7 million to $88.6 million in revenue. That's a sharp sequential drop from the $100 million it just posted, but there is seasonality to this business. The Chinese New Year holiday brings hiring to a grinding halt for a good chunk of time during the first quarter. On a U.S. dollar basis, it would be year-over-year growth of just 6% to 9%, but in China's local currency we're talking about 13.6% to 17.4% in growth. 51job is still getting the job done, cranking out modest yet steady growth in all climates.  

Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 51job. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.