A real estate portal may seem like a ho-hum endeavor, but throw it in China and sprinkle it with market leadership, and you really have something.
Shares of SouFun
Revenue soared 68% to $98.9 million. Earnings didn't grow as quickly, though SouFun's adjusted profit of $0.51 a share is a healthy improvement over the $0.37 a share it clocked in with a year earlier. SouFun earned more during the quarter than it did during the first three quarters of 2010 combined.
SouFun isn't a familiar name to stateside investors, but the company is carving out a juicy living generating online leads and collecting listing fees. SouFun commands nearly 59% of the online real estate advertising market. That kind of leadership that has made it easier for the company to expand into magnetic and lucrative content covering home improvement projects and residential furnishings.
Early believers have enjoyed a delightful ride. SouFun went public just five months ago, and it pushed through a 4-for-1 stock split this week. Its IPO price of $42.50 will now be adjusted down to $10.63 a share.
This doesn't mean that China's real estate market itself has been a smart play for investors. Developer Xinyuan Real Estate
China Real Estate Information, the pairing of the related web-based assets of E-House and SINA
In other words, SouFun isn't riding a hot trend: It's actually bucking against it.
Investors seem refreshingly flabbergasted. This is SouFun's second quarterly report as a public company, and its shares have popped higher both times.
The heady growth will continue, but at a markedly decelerated pace. SouFun's guidance calls for revenue to climb 28% to 32% in 2011, a far cry from last year's 77% top-line advance. SouFun doesn't issue earnings guidance, but the current valuation appears reasonable if it's able to maintain or ideally widen its margins during the year ahead. After earning an adjusted $0.93 a share for all of 2010, SouFun opened this morning at 26 times trailing profitability. That's a chunky multiple, but it's a relative bargain compared to other Chinese dot-coms that lead their specialties. Paid-search juggernaut Baidu
There will always be the fear that interest in real estate topics will diminish in China. The country has already taken stiff measures to help scale back rampant realty speculation. However, SouFun has successfully navigated its way toward impressive growth in that climate.
It's hard to argue with results, and SouFun is now two for two in its brief yet robust public life.
What do you think of China's real estate opportunities? Share your thoughts in the comment box below? Also, if you’re looking to keep following SouFun, add it to your watchlist today.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is not about to buy a house in China, but he is fond of the real estate plays in the country. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.