Monster Adds Lustre for Possible Sale (MWW, LNKD, RHI, MAN)

Last month on-line recruiting service Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW) announced that it had hired advisers to help it decide whether or not to sell all or part the company. In order for that to be profitable for investors, Monster has to get beautiful. The company took a small step in that direction when it reported first quarter results this morning that were better than some very low expectations.

Monster came public in late 1996 at $7/share and the stock soared to an all-time high of $91/share in early 2000. Shares closed at $8.16 yesterday. Competition from LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) and traditional recruiting firms like Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE: RHI) and ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN) has pinched the company’s performance sharply.

Monster reported EPS of $0.04, double the consensus estimate of $0.02. Revenue totaled $246.1 million versus a consensus estimate of $240.5 million, and down from $261.4 million in the same period a year ago.

The company recently signed a four-year contract with the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions. None of the first quarter’s revenue or earnings came from this contract.

The company’s guidance for the second quarter will probably curb some of the enthusiasm that first quarter results generated. The company said it expected revenues to be down by -4% to -8% from last year’s second quarter total of $259 million. EPS for the second quarter are expected to be $0.04-$0.08, also lower than last year’s second quarter EPS of $0.09.

Monster’s shares are up 10.4% in the first hour of trading this morning at $9.01 in a 52-week range of $6.34-$18.00.

Paul Ausick

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