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AsiaInfo an Attractive Play on Chinese Cellphone Growth

AsiaInfo Holdings [[ASIA]] has seen its stock price rise by one-third in 2009 on the basis of an impressive first quarter, business developments and consistent positive press.

The Beijing-based company primarily provides software to Chinese cellphone companies, accounting for more than 80% of its revenue last year, though it also offers IT security services. For the first quarter of this year, AsiaInfo exceeded revenue estimates by posting a 45.6% increase in year-over-year revenue to $51 million with net income of $5.8 million, or 13 cents per share.

The potential for the continued growth of AsiaInfo’s business due to the continued expansion of the Chinese cellular market has not escaped the notice of American investors. River Oak Discovery Fund manager Robert Stimpson’s top stock pick at the end of June was AsiaInfo Holdings. Stimpson notes in a interview:

“As 3G networks are rolled out in China, more telecommunications software and services will be needed to measure data usage, provide billing and additional services. Communication usage typically increases with economic development. This, combined with the rollout of 3G, consumer-directed economic stimulus and AsiaInfo’s home-field advantage present a good opportunity.”

AsiaInfo has also continued announcing new partnerships, such its winning bid to set up a new charge system for China Mobile Beijing’s pre-paid services.

AsiaInfo announces second-quarter results on July 29, and with analysts’ estimates already increasing from 16 cents per share to 18 cents per share for the quarter – which would be 38% growth from a year earlier – now could be the time to buy. AsiaInfo is an opportunity to get in on China’s continued economic development generally through its cellular market at a very reasonable forward price-to-earnings ratio of 15.

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