China’s Travel Market: Why it’s an Attractive Chance for Investment

With all of the increased income and the interest in the country as a travel destination to foreigners, China has turned into one of the top travel markets in the world for both domestic and international travelers. China is predicted to see major growth in its domestic travel from 2011 to 2013. All of this makes for a very interesting investment opportunity.

Yesterday, I talked about China’s growing auto sector. Whether it is cars or retail, consumers in China are getting more disposable income and want to spend.

Numbers just came out that China is estimated to grow its gross domestic product by 9.5% this year, according to the median forecast of 19 economists. And, while the reading is down from 10.3% in 2010, it remains impressive by comparative standards.

Interest rates have been edging higher and inflation will continue to be an issue, but the recent real estate prices have been slowing.

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With all of the increased income and the interest in the country as a travel destination to foreigners, China has turned into one of the top travel markets in the world for both domestic and international travelers. To deal with the increased travel, China has been steadily building its road, rail, and air infrastructure, which will make travelling in this country much easier.

“China is the most attractive place in the world right now for hotels. That’s why investment capital is racing there and why the major international brands are racing there too,” said Patrick Ford, president of U.S.-based Lodging Econometrics, in an article on time.com. China is the fourth top destination for tourism, but is expected to become the number one destination by 2020, according to the World Tourism Association.

China is predicted to see major growth in its domestic travel from 2011 to 2013, according to a research report, “China Tourism Industry Forecast to 2012,” by traveldailynews.com.

Online travel bookings in China are estimated at $15.4 billion by 2011, up from $1.5 billion in 2006, according to emarketer.com.

China’s travel industry is driven by a population of over 1.3 billion people and a steadily increasing middle class with money to spend on travel. As wages increase, so will the spending on non-essential items, such as travel and recreation.

To handle the expected increase in travel, there is a push to build more hotels and motels across the vast country.

Chinese travel stocks are in favor. My investment advice is to look at the numerous investment opportunities available to you in the Chinese travel and hotel area. Examples of stocks include China Lodging Group, Limited (NASDAQ/HTHT), Home Inns & Hotels Management Inc. (NASDAQ/HMIN), and 7 Days Group Holdings Limited (NYSE/SVN).

All three companies have above-average long-term share appreciation potential, but for now I will take a look at 7 Days Group as a specific example of a Chinese travel stock.

Established in 2004, 7 Days Group began trading on the NYSE Global Select Market on November 20, 2009. The initial public offering was for 10,100,000 American Depositary Shares (ADS) at $11.00 per ADS.

The company is the third largest national economy hotel chain. It offers limited services under the “7 Days Inn” brand, akin to budget hotels and motels in the U.S. and Canada.

As of December 31, 2010, 7 Days Group operated 568 hotels, up from 337 hotels a year earlier. The company is also planning to open 290 new hotels in 2011, up from the previous target of 240. A record 107 net hotels were added in the fourth quarter of 2010.

In the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2010, 7 Days Group reported net revenues 41.4% higher compared to the same period the prior year, totaling $66.5 million. Revenue growth in 2010 was 31.3% to $227.1 million.

Income from operations totaled $4.9 million.

Finally, net income for the fourth quarter of 2010 totaled $3.3 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, a big improvement from the prior year’s fourth-quarter loss.

We have seen a rise in coverage from Wall Street.

The five analysts who follow 7 Days Group estimate that the company will make $0.60 per ADS in 2011 (+65.56% year-over-year), followed by profits of $0.91 per ADS in 2012 (+52.68% year-over-year).

Annual revenues are estimated to grow 34.5% in 2011, followed by 27.3% in 2012.

7 Days Group may or may not have the greatest potential of the three stocks I mentioned. Only time will tell; but what is for sure is that the travel sector in China is a key growth area.