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Why 51job Shares Dropped 15% Last Month

By Anders Bylund – Feb 6, 2020 at 8:41AM

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The China-based provider of human resource services took a haircut due to coronavirus fears in January.

What happened

Shares of 51job (JOBS) fell 15% in January 2020, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The Chinese human-resources service saw its share prices fall as soon as word of the coronavirus outbreak started to spread.

So what

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first American case of the coronavirus on Jan. 21, a day that also marked the start of a global conversation about this deadly disease. 51job's stock fell 5% that day alone, and the stock continued to plunge lower as the virus spread.

A young Asian woman standing next to a busy city street, wearing a surgical face mask.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

51job was hardly the only Chinese stock to crash amid the coronavirus panic, as nervous investors sliced nearly half a trillion dollars off of China's stock market's total value. A negative market reaction certainly makes sense for a company like 51job, since I don't imagine that Chinese employers are out looking for new hires or business management services at the moment. The longer this virus scare hangs around, the deeper the damage will be to 51jobs' financial results.

It's too early to tell whether this virus-based price cut serves as a selling signal or a deep-discount buying opportunity, because we simply don't understand the disease well enough. Until the virus starts to slow its spread or someone comes up with an effective vaccine, I'm neither buying nor selling any virus-discounted tickers from the Chinese stock market.

Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 51job. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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