What happened

Shares of Ctrip.com International (TCOM 0.99%) gained 23.1% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The stock got hammered in late 2018 over the slowdown in China's economy, but positive news sent the shares higher to start 2019. 

A Chinese woman holds a camera around her neck.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Despite the sluggish economy, Chinese travelers are not staying home. Travel agencies and tourism authorities report that bookings are on the upswing, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. The number of international trips by residents of China increased by 15% in the first half of 2018 over the same period in 2017. 

Check out the latest Ctrip earnings call transcript.

These positive trends translated to strong operating performance for Ctrip, an online travel agency, in the third quarter. The company grew revenue by 15% year over year to $1.4 billion. 

CEO Jane Sun's comments about the quarter suggest that this momentum should continue despite the slow economy:

We are seeing our large, growing, and loyal customer base continue to increase their engagements on Ctrip. We are selling more travel products across our customer's travel itinerary. With our strong foundation in the travel industry, despite the ongoing macro uncertainty, we are confident that we are the best travel company to capture more travel market share going forward. 

Now what

China's citizens are expected to travel more. Only 5% of them have a passport, which means there's plenty of room for Ctrip to grow over the long term.

The stock fell 39% in 2018, as investors revised their lofty growth expectations. But it's clear that expectations might have gotten too low, explaining the stock's sharp rebound in January. Analysts expect Ctrip to grow revenue 18.5% in 2019, while earnings are expected to increase to $1.18 per share versus a projected $1.14 for 2018.