The Federal Reserve has stated that they intend to keep stimulus measures in place and interest rates at historical lows until the employment rate cracks the 6.5% level. The latest reading on the labor market showed November unemployment at 7.7%, despite a moderate increase in the change in non-farm payrolls of 150k. It is well understood that the unemployment rate can change despite conditions not improving, due to the fact that more individuals simply drop out of the workforce. The consensus by most banks is that the unemployment rate may not be crossed until the end of 2015. Most folks in the business community believe that the Fed’s new guidance will make it easier for companies to make financial decisions, as they will have a clearer idea as to when borrowing costs will begin to appreciate.
Companies that provide staffing services and are directly linked to the health of the labor market believe conditions will get better once there is more clarity in Washington. Monster Worldwide (NYSE: MWW) is a well-known online employment company that allows folks both in the private and public sector to view job opportunities, while allowing employers the ability to view candidates’ resumes. The company’s stock is trading around $5.40 with a market capitalization of $628 million. There is quite a bit of competition in the industry with largest being Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI), $4.42bln market cap, Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN), Kforce, Inc. (NASDAQ: KFRC), Dice Holdings (NYSE: DHX) and Heidrick & Struggles. The employment service industry is a very precarious sector as most companies have cut back on hiring until after issues such as the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling have been resolved. During this time the sector has been mixed, with some companies seeing their stock price appreciate, while others have experienced a downfall.
There has been some insider buying in Monster as of late, with Michael McGuinness acquiring 2,500 shares in December. At the moment there is a 28% short interest in the stock, so a rebound in economic conditions will be accelerated by investors covering short positions. The stock is at an attractive level at $5.90 as it just above its 52-week low of $5.01 (high is $10.40). One of the biggest catalysts for the stock is the international growth that lies ahead for the company, as the competition in foreign market s is not as intense as in the U.S.
Once the fiscal cliff is resolved and companies are able to quantify their taxes and costs, both MWW and its competitors will do better. MWW is attractive right now due to the level at which it is trading and the name recognition in the industry. Also, MWW is one of the main stocks that benefit from the January effect, as it has outperformed the majority of the time. Many recruiters use other website and social networking apps in addition to utilizing Monster, and is considered a vital resource for human resources. A rebound from its current level is expected to be fairly robust with upside potential all the way up to 50% in 6-months.