Monster Worldwide (Nasdaq: MNST ) , a provider of recruitment services and operator of the employment site monster.com, has decided to shake things up at the top. The company's current CEO, William Pastore, will be replaced by director Sal Iannuzzi, former CEO of Symbol Technologies.
Although no reason was clearly stated in the press release, Monster has been dealing with an investigation into its backdating options over the last few months. Option scandals have plagued many other companies, including Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO ) . Similarly to Monster, the investigation into Take-Two Interactive by the SEC (alongside other problems) also resulted in a shift of management.
Pastore was a recent addition, having replaced former CEO and Founder Andrew McKelvey, who vacated the position because of -- what else -- an options backdating problem that overstated earnings by $272 million over 9 years. This latest CEO shuffle perhaps wasn't wholly precipitated by options woes (although they played an obvious role, as Forbes observed, since Pastore was COO during part of the time frame in which options backdating was running rampant) -- recent poor performance may also be a contributing factor.
In addition to backdating problems, the preliminary results for the first quarter -- which ended March 31 -- weren't up to par. Monster's revenue fell short of its original forecast of $330 million to $338 million, causing the stock price to drop more than 13% last week.
However, the stock rebounded 5% yesterday on extremely heavy volume, thanks to speculation that Monster will now invoke the famous "strategic alternatives" outlook and shop itself around, according to Bloomberg. This is where things get tricky. While leadership change is a positive development, guessing as to whether or not the company will be sold constitutes a risky proposition.
Personally, I wouldn't be chasing Monster's stock right now. I'd rather wait and see how the fundamentals shape up from this point forward -- I don't want to merely bet on a change of ownership. The latest 10-K shows that the company has seen its earnings from continuing operations rise over the last few years (they've gone from $0.36 per diluted share in 2002 to $1.17 per diluted share in 2006) on good revenue growth, so it has done well in the past. The last quarterly report showed growth in both sales and EPS from continuing operations, as well as slightly increasing margins.
Although the company has the options debacle and heavy competition from entities such as Kforce (Nasdaq: KFRC ) , Manpower (NYSE: MAN ) , and Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO ) HotJobs asset, it's still got a great brand with monster.com. Nonetheless, I'd sit on the sidelines at least until the new CEO presents his ideas for future growth.
There's a Monster on the loose:
Yahoo! is a recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor. This newsletter offers a wealth of market-beating investment ideas. Try it out free for 30 days, with absolutely no obligation. We'll help you get rich -- Foolishly, of course.
Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 11,519 out of 26,569 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.