Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Manpower Robert Half Valuation

  • For the past week there has been bullish sentiment again in the human resource, temp space.
Robert Half International (RHI) received upgrades and revisions to their expectations.

While Manpower (MAN) received an upgrade from Banc of America ML.

I'm a bit more cautious on the space especially with the run up for this past year. Although there has been an improvement in jobs lost; there continues to be an underlying problem in the global economy.

This growth has been fueled by government stimulus and not so much private sector demand. And the growth has been muted by recovery standards. The US for example revised their GDP growth for the 3Q down to 2.2%.

While employment survey after survey still speak to weak to flat growth for Q1 of 2010.

  • Valuation alone I would avoid the space till there is more clarity that there will not be a double dip recession. With commercial mortgage and ARMS, debt, and continued restrained spending by the consumer, and depressed wage growth there will be significant challenges abound to job creation.
  • Higher taxes in 2010 will be a certainty in the US. And that will depress consumer demand. The risk that this will further depress job creation with demand as slack as it is.
  • Valuations have run up to the point where these human resource stocks must meet or blow out its numbers. Take for example Manpower (MAN). I have pointed out MAN due to its lofty valuations in comparison with its competitors.
  1. Trading at close to 90x p/e, and on a normalized base close to 60x earnings. And this considering that they have had earnings that have declined with the growth implosion of 2007. I normally track the technology sector where growth is more attractive. Manpower is trading at multiple that are present for a technology company. Unfortunate the last growth that MAN has seen was back in 2007.

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