Why Heidrick & Struggles Shares Tumbled

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What: Shares of Heidrick & Struggles (NASDAQ: HSII  ) were ... well, struggling today, falling as much as 24% after delivering a disappointing quarterly earnings report.

So what: The headhunting and leadership consulting specialist said revenue for the quarter fell 18% to $103.9 million, below expectations of $109.5 million. Even worse, Heidrick & Struggles reported a $0.02-per-share loss against estimates of a $0.16 profit. Revenue dropped in all regions, with Europe the worst performer at a 29.2% decline. All segments declined as well, with Leadership Consulting falling 34.9%. First-quarter guidance was within expectations at $100 million to $110 million, and management said "restoring our growth in our core Executive Search business is our foremost priority."

Now what: This report is about as bad as they come. Not only was the last quarter a disaster, but all of 2012 was just as miserable. For the year, revenue dropped 15.9% and earnings per share were just $0.34, down from an adjusted EPS of $1.33 in 2011, as income from continuing operations dropped by 30%. This is a 60-year-old company, and I don't expect it to disappear anytime soon, but management desperately needs to find a path out of these doldrums.

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