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Monster considering ''strategic alternatives'': CEO

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:04am
Scott Malone, Reuters
Online recruitment company Monster Worldwide Inc Chief Executive Sal Iannuzzi told investors on Thursday the company was considering all "strategic alternatives," and its shares rose 16.6 percent.

"Our shareholders deserve a better return," Iannuzzi told an investor conference. "The board and the management is also focused on pursuing all strategic alternatives to increase shareholder value."

Iannuzzi did not specify what alternatives the company was considering. However, investors typically interpret discussions of "strategic alternatives" as an indication a company is considering selling all or part of itself.

A Monster spokeswoman declined to comment beyond Iannuzzi's statements.

Monster shares were up $1.15 at $8.09 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Iannuzzi said his company, which runs the Monster.com recruiting website, regards itself as sharply undervalued compared with its peers, which include Dice Holdings Inc, Manpower Group, LinkedIn Corp and CareerBuilder.com, partly owned by Microsoft Corp.

"The stock price is not where it should be," Iannuzzi said. "If you compare us to our competition, any company in our space, our multiple is severely below them."

RETURNING CASH TO SHAREHOLDERS

He said Monster has no interest in pursuing takeovers of its own. "We have no acquisitions in mind," Iannuzzi said. "So if anyone's concerned about where our money is going to go, we don't have acquisitions. Any excess cash will be returned to the shareholders via stock purchase."

The New York-based company has $250.3 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet and a market value of $828.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters Data.

Over the past year, Monster shares have fallen about 60.8 percent, while the Thomson Reuters United States Employment Services Index has tumbled 20.8 percent.

When the company reported financial results in January, it warned investors that it expected first-quarter profit to be lower than analysts expected and that it planned to cut its staff by about 7 percent, or 400 jobs.

(Reporting By Scott Malone; editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Andre Grenon)

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