Economic uncertainty fuels Manpower

The employment company sees a good quarter as demand for temp workers continues to grow.

By Kim Peterson Oct 20, 2010 10:55AM
Brown-bag lunch © Digital Vision/Getty ImagesIt's the best of worlds for Manpower (MAN) right now. Economic uncertainty still weighs heavily on the job market as companies hesitate to increase payrolls. But they still need help as operations ramp up in the second half of the year.

Enter the temp worker. Manpower shares are up 5% today after the company beat Wall Street estimates for its third quarter.

"We knew we had good momentum going into the quarter. We just weren't quite sure if we were able to sustain it or not," chief executive Jeffrey Joerres said in a conference call with analysts. As it turned out, Manpower was able to squeak out slightly faster growth.

The company reported $51.3 million in profit, or 62 cents a share, for the quarter. That's up from a $52.8 million loss, or 67 cents a share, from a year ago. Wall Street had been expecting 52 cents a share.

The revenue picture was similarly bright, growing 19% from the year-ago period to $5 billion.Manpower

Manpower's earnings are watched closely as an indicator of the U.S. job market, even though most of its business is done outside of the country. The company said it saw strong revenue growth in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as in parts of Europe.

As the third quarter unfolded, Manpower still received mixed messages throughout the global economy, Joerres said. But business did well as a result of slow but steady demand, economic uncertainty and a will to allow more flexibility in the labor force.

In the U.S., companies could have shut down hiring after the Labor Day holiday, preferring to keep costs low for the rest of the year. But that didn't happen, Joerres said, and the fact that companies sought growth after Labor Day was a good indicator.

The fourth quarter should also be solid, Joerres said. The company expects a profit of between 54 and 62 cents a share, though restructuring charges could run as high as 20 cents a share.


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