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Monster.com carries TMP above forecasts

Monster.com carried its parent company to better-than-expected results in the first quarter, but the parent also sees the rest of the year's earnings coming in just below consensus analyst expectations.

After market close Tuesday, Monster.com owner TMP Worldwide (Nasdaq: TMPW) reported first-quarter earnings of $20.36 million, or 18 cents per share. First Call's survey of 15 analysts predicted a per-share profit of 15 cents for TMP's first quarter ended March 31.

Shares of TMP Worldwide traded at $49.75 in after-hours activity on the Island ECN, following the release of quarterly results. TMP fell $1.23 on $50.76 in Tuesday's regular trading ahead of the news.

TMP reported first-quarter revenue of $362.8 million, up 28 percent from the year-ago period. The company's Interactive unit, which revolves around Monster.com, boosted revenue to $156.6 million, representing gains of 111 percent year-over-year and 10 percent sequentially.

Monster.com's first-quarter revenue rose 111 percent from the previous year to $129.2 million, with an operating profit of $32.5 million.

TMP Worldwide offers advertising, executive search and recruitment services. The company's flagship product, Monster.com, is an online network connecting job-seekers and employers.

TMP now sees per-share earnings of 30 cents, 45 cents and 47 cents for the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively. Each of those projections is a penny below the corresponding forecast from First Call.

Revenue for the year will range between $1.6 billion and $1.62 billion, said Bart Catalane, chief financial officer. First Call had been predicting $1.58 billion in 2001 revenue. TMP's eResourcing unit is driving revenue growth and helping to counter softness in the company's older businesses of executive search and advertising, Catalane said.

Many observers expected TMP to lower estimates a bit.

"As we have said before, we would not be surprised to see consensus revenue expectations come down slightly...to reflect the economic uncertainty," UBS Warburg analyst Kelly Flynn wrote in a research note released Friday.

"We think the stock should react well. We believe the revenue uncertainty is already widely appreciated by investors," Flynn said. "We also think that the strong results and management's comments on earnings flexibility are likely to mitigate concerns about earnings risk."

UBS Warburg has a "strong buy" rating on TMP Worldwide.

The Monster.com insulation
Monster.com's "must buy" status with companies that are hiring helps protect TMP from the economic downturn, according to Andrea Williams Rice, analyst with Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, which maintains a "buy" advisory on TMP.

A large international presence also helps TMP, Rice believes. The company gets 40 percent of its revenue from Europe and Australia, whose economies haven't slowed down as much as the U.S. economy.

"While the increasing number of layoffs in the U.S. does not bode well for the recruitment industry in general, we believe TMP is somewhat insulated," Rice wrote in a research note from Monday. >

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