Analysts: Is Monster.com Feeling the Heat from HotJobs?

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By: Jennifer Saba

Monster Worldwide released its Q1 results on Thursday revealing that growth is slowing for the online recruitment site.

The company said that in Q1, revenue increased 28% to $329 million compared to the same period a year ago. In the Q4 2006 revenue grew 33.4%.

In a note to investors, Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert and his team wrote the slowing growth trends were the result of the North American market. Revenue for that division rose 15% in Q1 from 22% in Q4 2006 and 25% to 30% in Q3, Q2, and Q1.

Monster also trimmed its 2007 revenue estimate slightly less than 1%. Goldman Sachs believes Monster is starting to feel some of the pressure from Yahoo’s HotJobs’ recent alliance with more than 260 newspapers.

International growth remained strong at the company, with a 64% year-over-year gain compared with 63% in Q4, noted Goldman Sachs. International margins expanded to 7.5% from 1.2% in the same period a year ago.

Still, help-wanted is forecasted to slow this year as a result of a soft job market. Wachovia Equity Research analyst John Janedis wonders in note to investors if the slowdown in Monster’s North American division is a “leading indicator of a broader U.S. employment ad slowdown, or a temporary blip.”

Wachovia lowered it Q2 estimates from 40 cents per share to 33 cents. Wachovia maintained its “market perform” rating but concluded, “We would be more constructive on the stock if the U.S. employment pictures firms, all else being equal.”

Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, raises the same questions and maintained a “neutral” rating on the company. “Even with [Monster’s] revised guidance, we believe expectations may still be a bit aggressive for 2007 in light of a slowing U.S. labor market and a more intense online competitive environment,” Appert wrote.

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