In the competitive spirit of college basketball's annual championship tournament, The Motley Fool brings you Stock Madness 2007! Our writers are making head-to-head arguments for their chosen stocks (but not necessarily investment recommendations -- this is, after all, a game), and you'll pick the winners with your article recommendations and Motley Fool CAPS ratings. Who will win the right to cut down the net? Let's tip things off and find out!
There are a few things you should know when it comes to the private-education market and China, and how they pertain to my company in this matchup, New Oriental Education & Technology Group
- 1.6 Billion. That, give or take 200 million people, is the population of China. Of this amount, some 100 million are middle-class. You don't really want to point to a company and say that it has "limitless" growth in front of it, yet with China, we're witnessing the greatest urban migration and wealth-creating engine in history.
- 3%. That's the amount of the private-education business in China that New Oriental controls. Yet it is the name brand, the private professional English-language and test-preparation school that has the highest name recognition and reputation in the country.
- 10%. That's the average percentage of income Chinese professionals would be willing to spend on employment-related education.
$640. That's the average annualized amount spent per New Oriental customer -- times roughly 337,000 people. Unlike competitors such as Princeton Review
(NASDAQ:REVU)and Kaplan -- part of Washington Post (NYSE:WPO)-- New Oriental has positioned itself at a lower cost to attract upwardly mobile Chinese, rather than set itself at price points that make the services relevant only to the very wealthy and to expatriates.
- 131. That's the number of cities in China that have 500,000 or more people. Given the flight from rural to urban areas in China, there are some estimates that the country would need to build a new city the size of Houston every six months to supply housing in response to the growth. New Oriental has 115 education centers spread among only 30 cities, but it is focused heavily on the four wealthiest.
Coffee. Coffee?!? To me, New Oriental has the same intangible appeal that Starbucks
(NASDAQ:SBUX)does. Coffee, like private education, is a commodity business. Yet the company has garnered a national presence and name brand, based on effectiveness of process and differentiated experience.
How much is that last point worth? Drive into a random town, and you'll find Ed's Coffee and Starbucks. Which one are you going to head to? Now make the choice much more important than a cuppa joe. There's a New Oriental center in town? That's where you get training for the GMAT. What's more, while this is a gross generalization, there are two basic truths about Chinese: They tend to be extremely name-brand conscious, and they also take their education extremely seriously. What is one of the quickest-growing segments at New Oriental? Try after-school supplemental training.
Finally, New Oriental and the private educators serve an extremely important role for China. Its universities have proved woefully inadequate at developing a sufficient middle-management workforce, either in quality or in numbers. Private educators and Western graduate schools are filling the void for what has been and will be a segment in extraordinarily high demand.
It's an enormous, growing market that has both unbelievable growth potential and massive existing demand. New Oriental controls a tiny portion of the existing market, but it holds a large part of the mindshare and sports the dominant brand name.
And that is a recipe for success.
Does New Oriental Education deserve to move on to the next round? If so, simply follow this link and rank the stock "outperform" in Motley Fool CAPS. If not, vote it "underperform." Later this week, we'll tally your votes to determine which stocks will advance one step closer to the title.
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Fool senior analyst Bill Mann does not own shares of any company mentioned. He runs point on Motley Fool Global Gains, the Fool's international investing service, and co-advises Motley Fool Hidden Gems. New Oriental Education is a Global Gains choice. Starbucks is a Stock Advisor selection. iRobot is a Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.