What happened

Shares of New Oriental Education and Technology Group (NYSE:EDU) were climbing last year as the Chinese tutoring service posted strong growth and saw its enrollment spike, showing that its expansion is paying off. Shares of New Oriental finished the year up 121%, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, while its rival TAL Education Group jumped 80% -- proof that the tutoring industry is thriving in China. 

As the chart below shows, shares of New Oriental rose over the course of the year as investors realized the opportunity that New Oriental is tapping into.

EDU Chart

EDU data by YCharts.

So what

New Oriental shares surged out of the gate, climbing nearly 50% through January as the company got some analyst endorsements and turned in a strong second-quarter earnings report. The results included revenue growth of 33.6% in constant currency to $597.1 million. Adjusted earnings per share rose from $0.09 to $0.14, which was better than the analyst consensus for $0.01 per share. Enrollment during the period rose 24% to 2.32 million.  

A Chinese boy sitting in front of a laptop computer

Image source: Getty Images.

Toward the end of March, the stock got another boost as it listed its subsidiary Koolearn in Hong Kong. In New Oriental's third-quarter earnings report in April, enrollment soared 82% on a reported basis, but was between 40% and 45% after adjustments. Revenue jumped 29% to $797 million, and adjusted earnings per share rose 19% to $0.69.

Shares pulled back in May on trade tensions between the U.S. and China, but the stock got another boost in its July earnings report, rising 9% as enrollment rose 34% and revenue jumped 20% to $843 million. The stock whipsawed in October following another solid earnings report, and traded flat over the rest of the year. 

Now what

New Oriental's pivot to after-school K-12 tutoring services is clearly paying off, and the company has a huge opportunity since there's considerable demand for such tutoring services in China and the market remains highly fragmented. Though I wouldn't expect shares to double again this year, this Chinese stock looks poised for long-term growth.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.