It'll set you back the equivalent of roughly $20 a night to stay at one of the 145 Home Inns & Hotels
Revenues soared 66% to $23.7 million, but earnings before an asset-based charge clocked in at just $0.03 per ADS. Net margin of 5% isn't too impressive in the hospitality industry, or in the high-margin realm of Chinese stocks.
However, analysts expect margins and profits to expand substantially in the future. That leaves Home Inns trading at a hearty 134 times this year's earnings, and a still-lofty 68 times next year's profitability.
So why are the shares so buoyant? Did I mention that folks are paying $20 for an overnight stay at one of the 120-room inns? As China's economy continues to improve, those rates will be able to appreciate accordingly. The company operates all but a third of its hotels (48 are franchised) and it's scaling quickly. The company opened 11 new hotels during the first quarter.
The Olympics are coming to Beijing next year, so it's easy to get excited about China's lodging industry. We're not just talking about the rooms that will be booked at premium prices during the actual games. The travel industry should get a healthy boost as the region is profiled to potential vacationers all over the world. For now, Home Inns caters mostly to locals, but the future may come with a bigger net.
Is this a slam dunk? No. The company even had a few slips during the period. Travel is usually sleepy during the first quarter, with the Chinese New Year wedged in there, but even if we stack this quarter to last year's first quarter, one finds lower revenue generated per available room as a result of year-over-year occupancy rates dipping from 90% to 86%.
Keep an eye on occupancy and revenue per available room metrics over the next few quarters. In the meantime, if you want more reasonably priced plays on the boom in China's travel industry, you may want to check out companies like Ctrip.com
Ctrip is a Hidden Gems stock pick. If you want to know why, pack your bags and check in for a month-long stay. The 30-day trial subscription is free.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a fan of China's high-margin stocks for a long time. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.