What happened

Shares of Ctrip.com International (NASDAQ:TCOM) rocketed 28% last month, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, after the China-based online travel platform delivered strong fourth-quarter results.

So what

Ctrip's fourth-quarter revenue jumped 22% year over year to $1.1 billion, beating Wall Street's expectations of $1.07 billion. In turn, the company's adjusted earnings per American depositary share (ADS) came in at $0.13. That, too, was above consensus estimates, which had called for an adjusted loss of $0.03 per ADS. Ctrip's better-than-expected results led several analysts to raise their price targets for its stock. 

Ctrip also issued a bullish outlook for the first quarter of 2019. Management expects revenue to rise as much as 23% year over year. 

"Looking into 2019 and the longer term, we are confident of continued growth," Executive Chairman James Liang said in a press release. "Based on the strong foundation we have laid over the past few years, we expect our market share to increase at an even faster pace going forward as we continue to leverage operational improvements."  

A person pointing to an upwardly sloping chart

Ctrip's growth is accelerating. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Ctrip's gains have continued in April, with the shares up another 5% so far this month. Investors appear to be growing more excited about the company's long-term expansion potential.

During an interview on Fox Business, CEO Jane Sun said the Chinese travel industry is growing at about double the rate of the country's economy as a whole, which is expanding at a 6% annual rate. As GDP per capita increases, more Chinese people can afford to travel more often. 

In addition, with Ctrip continuing to gain share within this fast-growing industry, Sun believes the company can expand three to four times faster than China's economy. Thus, investors can expect Ctrip to increase its revenue at an impressive 20% annual clip in the coming years. And with China's GDP per capita rising steadily -- though still low compared to the U.S. and Europe -- Sun believes Ctrip has at least a decade of strong growth still ahead.

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