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3 Chinese Internet Stocks I'd Buy Right Now

By Rick Munarriz – Updated Nov 20, 2018 at 4:13PM

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Bitauto Holdings, 51job, and Momo have shed roughly half of their values in recent months, but with forward earnings multiples in the teens and pre-teens, it's time to start thinking like a value investor.

Some of the hardest-hit stocks during the recent market downturn have been China's growth stocks -- more specifically, the dot-com darlings that have fueled global investor interest in the country in recent years. Political trade-tariff rhetoric isn't helping, and we've also seen a fair share of scandal and regulatory tightening within China itself. 

There are obviously a few stocks that have earned the downticks, but that's not the case across the board. Bitauto Holdings (BITA), 51job (JOBS), and Momo (MOMO 2.18%) are three Chinese internet stocks that have shed roughly half their peak value that I would consider buying right now. In fact, I already own two of them, and will probably initiate a position in the third soon. Let's see what makes these beaten-up growth stocks so compelling right now. 

A showroom floor model and car.

Image source: Bitauto Holdings.


One of the companies bringing up the rear this earnings season is Bitauto. The provider of online content, marketing, and financial services for China's booming auto industry reports its third-quarter results next week. 

Bitauto hasn't had a problem delivering healthy growth. It came through with a 29% revenue gain in the second quarter, and its guidance at the time called for 23% to 25% top-line growth this time around. 

Transaction services revenue has been the key driver of Bitauto's growth through its 44% stake in Yixin, and the best part is that it's not holding back the explosive growth at the other end of the income statement. Adjusted earnings rose 94% in the second quarter, and analysts see Bitauto's bottom-line results more than doubling this time around. One would expect to pay a king's ransom for that kind of growth, but the Chinese stock sell-off that has taken Bitauto down with it finds the shares trading for less than 13 times this year's projected earnings and just 10 times next year's target. 


China's economy may be slowing down, but there are still plenty of jobs to be filled in the world's most populous nation. 51job got its start publishing weekly job listings in regional newspapers. But these days, it's a high-tech matchmaker for employers and prospective employees through online recruitment services that account for more than two-thirds of its business.

Business is booming. Revenue rose 31% in its latest quarter, and adjusted earnings soared 53%. The company sees revenue growing at a 25% to 28% clip in the fourth quarter. Its earnings guidance wasn't as generous or well received, but 51job is built to succeed over the long haul. Hiring demands may ebb and flow, but China's economy continues to grow faster than most of the world's large countries. 51job isn't trading at an earnings multiple as low as Bitauto's and Momo's, but it is now going for less than 20 times next year's earnings. That's an attractive valuation that should pass most portfolio job interviews.  


One of China's most attractive investments when pitting growth to P/E is Momo. The social video and online dating specialist can be had at 12 times this year's projected profit and just 9 times next year's forecast. You wouldn't expect that kind of price for a stock that saw revenue skyrocket 58% in its latest quarter with adjusted net income almost doubling. 

Naysayers will fret about the fickle nature of social platforms, and that's fair. Its live video broadcasting platform has exploded in popularity, and it can just as quickly fizzle out once the next shiny new diversion rolls out. However, sooner or later there has to be some market love for a dirt-cheap stock whose business model is far removed from the negative catalysts dogging China in recent months.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of 51job and Bitauto Holdings. The Motley Fool recommends 51job and Momo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

51job, Inc. Stock Quote
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Bitauto Holdings Limited Stock Quote
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