Monster Worldwide Heads Lower on Downgrade, Decline in January Employment Index
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Monster Worldwide Inc. slipped on Thursday, after an analyst downgraded the job Web site operator and the company's January employment index showed a decline in online recruitment among employers.
The stock declined 76 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $27.85.
Monster said its index, which measures online job postings and availability, declined 9 points in January to 160 from 169 in December, marking the third straight monthly decline.
The index registered sequential decreases in 20 of 23 industries it tracked, and opportunities for workers in finance and insurance operations dropped 21 points in January, reflecting the subprime mortgage crisis, Monster said.
Year-over-year, the index declined nearly 5 percent from 168 points a year ago, said Monster, which operates online job search site Monster.com.
"The index's decline in January was likely due to aspects of seasonality that continued over from the previous month as well as a slowing U.S. economy," said Jesse Harriott, vice president of research at Monster Worldwide.
Deutsche Bank analyst Jeetil Patel downgraded Monster's stock to "Hold" from "Buy" and slashed his price target to $27 from $47, based on the decline in job postings, increased recession concerns, and execution risk from new management.
"While one month does not make a trend, the data suggest a meaningful slowdown on growth and could represent an issue on profitability given the higher margins in the North American market," Patel wrote in a client note.
Patel called North America Monster a "cash cow," but said this segment is facing a tough outlook in 2008.
"Clearly the potential for a U.S. recession represents an issue on growth this year," Patel wrote.
Monster's employment index measures employer online recruitment activity nationwide by surveying job listings from Web sites. The index has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.05 percent.