Monster Worldwide to buy back shares if sale doesn't go through

Thu May 2, 2013 11:23am EDT

(Reuters) - Online recruitment company Monster Worldwide Inc, which has been up for sale for more than a year, said it would buy back shares if a sale did not go through.

Shares of the company, which reported quarterly revenue above Wall Street estimates for the first time in seven quarters, rose as much as 13 percent on Thursday. Monster shares had lost almost half their value in the last 12 months through Wednesday.

The company put itself up for sale in March 2012 as weak job markets in the United States and Europe, which generate the lion's share of its revenue, dragged on its performance.

The parent of Monster.com has since closed down operations in Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, and sold most of its loss-making business in China.

Chief Executive Sal Iannuzzi warned in February that talks to sell Monster were proceeding "very slowly".

"It is difficult to predict, if not impossible at this point, whether those conversations will result in a transaction", he said on a post-earnings conference call on Thursday.

However, as the sale "conversations end", Iannuzzi said Monster was preparing to resume its share repurchase.

"And we wanted to be ready to execute (a buyback) very aggressively, particularly given these prices."

Monster Worldwide's board authorized a share repurchase program of up to $200 million, replacing a $250 million buyback plan that expired in April, and through which it repurchased only $107 million as it began to pursue strategic alternatives.

Evercore Partners analyst Arthur Douglas said a share buyback program was critical to Monster as it has a lot of cash and a very depressed stock.

FIRST-QUARTER REVENUE BEAT

Revenue fell 9.3 percent to $211.9 million. Analysts on average expected revenue of $210.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income from continuing operations fell 17 percent to $11.1 million, or 10 cents per share, from $13.4 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings from continuing operations was 8 cents per share, in line with analysts' expectations.

"People were bracing for further downward revisions, and they maintained guidance and a little bit of upside in the quarter, so the story is starting to stabilize," Douglas said.

The company said it expects second quarter earnings between 6 cents and 10 cents per share.

Shares of the company were up 11 percent at $4.74 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Mridhula Raghavan in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

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