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Internet Recruitment Slows In China, 51job.com Posts 5% Annual Revenue Decline

Showing that Chinese businesses were slow to hire new employees in 2009, Chinese online recruitment company 51job Inc. just revealed its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter of 2009 and for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009, and stated that revenues fell 5% from 2008.

While total revenues at 51job.com for the last quarter increased 15.2% over the fourth quarter of 2008 to CNY226.0 million, total revenues for the entire fiscal year 2009 decreased 5.0% from 2008 to CNY817.1 million.

Rick Yan, president and CEO of 51job Inc. stated: “In light of the challenges we faced and overcame in 2009, we were especially pleased to end the year on a high note by achieving record profit in the fourth quarter. We have observed a strengthening trend in market conditions and believe our online business in particular has carried solid momentum into 2010. In addition, with the opening of our new call center in Wuhan, this business is well positioned to not only extend our geographic reach and addressable employer base, but also streamline our service network for greater efficiency and margin expansion. We believe the year is off to a robust start for 51job.”

Net income for the fourth quarter of 2009 increased to CNY46.4 million from CNY6.8 million for the same quarter in 2008. Fully diluted earnings per common share for the fourth quarter of 2009 were CNY0.84 compared with CNY0.12 for the same quarter in 2008. Fully diluted earnings per ADS for the fourth quarter of 2009 were CNY1.67 compared with CNY0.24 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Net income for 2009 increased 46.9% to CNY112.5 million from CNY76.6 million in 2008. Fully diluted earnings per common share for 2009 increased to CNY2.02 from CNY1.35 in 2008. Fully diluted earnings per ADS for 2009 were CNY4.03 compared with CNY2.70 in 2008.

Print advertising revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 increased 8.2% to CNY64.6 million compared with CNY59.7 million for the same quarter in 2008. The increase was primarily due to higher average revenue per page, which was partially offset by a lower volume of print advertising pages in 51job Weekly resulting from a decline in market demand. Although print advertising prices in each city remained relatively unchanged, overall average revenue per page increased 39.8% over the fourth quarter of 2008 due to an increase in page volume contribution from cities where print advertising prices are generally higher as compared to the same quarter of the prior year. The estimated number of print advertising pages generated in the fourth quarter of 2009 decreased 22.6% to 2,672 compared with 3,452 pages in the same quarter in 2008.

The estimated number of print advertising pages generated in fiscal year 2009 decreased 29.4% to 11,661 compared with 16,512 estimated pages in 2008. Unique employers using the company’s online recruitment services grew 39.9% to 143,451 in 2009 from 102,562 in 2008. Employers who purchase online services multiple times or in multiple quarters throughout the fiscal year are counted as one unique employer for the annual total.

Online recruitment services revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 were CNY97.3 million, representing a 33.7% increase from CNY72.7 million for the same quarter of the prior year. Other human resource related revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 increased 0.5% to CNY64.1 million from CNY63.8 million in the same quarter of 2008.

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