Is LinkedIn Ready for a Monster Acquisition?

Monster Worldwide (NYSE: MWW  ) is gearing up for the job interview that it sorely needs.

The parent company of online recruiter Monster.com announced last week that it was exploring strategic alternatives, and this week it hired financial advisors.

We know what they'll say.

"Sell -- and sell soon."

It's not just because that's what financial advisors are typically brought in to do. Monster's in a funk, and it's one that it won't get out of anytime soon. Analysts see revenue and earnings falling by 6% and 30%, respectively, this year.

Folks used to flock to job sites when they were looking for a change of career scenery. Monster.com, HotJobs, and CareerBuilder would pay up for Super Bowl ads. Life was good. However, there's a more social bent to sniffing out new jobs these days.

Dice Holdings (NYSE: DHX  ) isn't in the same state of decline as Monster. Analysts see revenue and earnings climbing 10% and 16%, respectively, this year. Dice's secret is that it builds engaging communities around industry-specific forums. From techies hanging out at Dice.com to Rigzone for oil-industry workers, Dice adds social layers to the networking process.

However, everyone knows that there's no one better at playing vocational matchmaker these days than LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) . The social networking website for white-collar professionals is booming. It has blown Wall Street's profit targets away by 70% or better in each of its first three quarters as a public company. Analysts are banking on revenue and profitability soaring 67% and 74%, respectively, this year, and you already know that these same pros have a history of being conservative.

Monster is hungry for a buyer. It would look great on LinkedIn's arm.

Why would a dot-com speedster want a dot-com laggard? Great question. Let's go into the reasons that this unlikely duo should be working together.

  • Monster's enterprise value is less than $1 billion, while LinkedIn's value is more than $8 billion. Notice the wide discrepancy? Now consider that Monster's nearly $980 million in revenue last year is more than LinkedIn's $872 million in revenue.
  • LinkedIn is richly priced. Even if we look out to next year, the stock is fetching 79 times its projected profitability. Monster fetches a 2013 multiple in the high teens. In other words, the deal itself would be accretive to earnings -- pushing LinkedIn's stiff earnings multiple dramatically lower.
  • Not every accretive deal is worth making, obviously. However, this one makes sense. LinkedIn.com and Monster's employment sites would benefit one another in obvious ways. LinkedIn would be more practical. Monster's sites would be more social. It's not just realized cost-saving synergies. The two companies truly would be more lucrative together than on their own.

The marriage makes sense, even though I realize that shortsighted investors would punish LinkedIn's stock if it raised its bidding card here.

Roll up the sleeves, get to work, and make it happen. Mr. Market will come around.

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The Motley Fool owns shares of LinkedIn. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of LinkedIn. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2012, at 12:20 PM, cequity wrote:

    I feel the linked in will settle around 60-62 very soon.

    It do not have the potential and it is as usual internet

    hype. I remember when LGL symbol went above $ 30

    and I said it will go down below $ 10 and reached to

    that level with 2 months.

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