Being in the right place at the right time can be a fiscal blessing for the right company. Catering to outplacement services at a time when there are more pink slips than at a flamingo lagoon, Right Management Consultants (NYSE: RHT) has been coasting through the economic malaise. Through the first nine months of the year, profits have more than doubled as revenue has climbed 55% higher.
Now, before you begin to get soft on me -- turning your back on a company that has stamped its meal ticket on the backs of the hungry -- let's go over what Right does, exactly. It's not just a hop on pessimism's coattails.
From career transition services to organizational consulting work, the company is more than just a sickle-swinging apprenticeship program for budding Grim Reapers. Yes, Right is the one that a lot of troubled companies call in to go over termination interviews and provide guidance in crafting appropriate severance pay packages when it's time for a layoff. But Right is also there to provide outplacement services to help the dearly departed get back on their feet and find a new job or acquire the skills to be better prepared for the future.
While tackling the sweet and sour of goodbyes has proven lucrative to Right, it also offers leadership development and talent management and organizational services for those spared. Sure, this segment provided just 17% of the company's revenues last year, but it's the flip side to the Right model that few consider. When the economy improves and companies are ready to invest in enhancing their workforce's performance, why not turn to the very people who helped soften the blow when times appeared bleak?
Right has earned its all-weather badge. It has grown its top line every single year over the past decade. Good times. Bad times. The truth is that Right has always been in the right place at the right time. But the Philadelphia-based company has grown beyond its stateside roots.
From India to Australia, Right is everywhere. Corporate flux knows no borders, and the company has been a busy acquirer overseas in a highly fragmented sector. While just a quarter of its business last year came from international operations, that's changing quickly after purchasing a proven presence in Europe, Canada, and Japan. The downside to its buying spree has been a tripling of its long-term debt over the past year to $124 million.
However, the end result is that it has completed nearly three dozen smooth acquisitions over the past five years and now stands as a global powerhouse with more than 300 locations worldwide.
While some companies have caved in to erratic swings, including other stocks that were supposed to be weatherproof, Right has posted a profit for 19 consecutive quarters. Yes, when you look back at companies such as job placement juggernaut TMP Worldwide (Nasdaq:TMPW) that were supposed to be feasting through this volatile working environment only to find their revenues have dipped by 23% and their earnings upended this year, you begin to appreciate Right's consistency a whole lot better.
Right has earned its moniker and namesake website. It has beaten quarterly profit estimates consistently over the past year. Investors have taken to the stock somewhat, naturally. It has gone through three 3-for-2 stock splits since last year. But, despite all this, the price is right, too.
Back in October, the company guided analysts higher. Again. Right is looking to earn between $1.53 and $1.57 a share this year on at least $460 million in revenue. So why is this company trading for less than 10 times this year's earnings?
Yes, the Reaper gets little respect in the tunnel of equity love. Right's performance has been solid enough to rank it fifth in this year's list of Forbes magazine's "Top 200 Small Companies," but it's being valued at less than the company's trailing revenues. While consulting companies often produce meaty gross margins only to watch all but the thinnest slice make it to the bottom line, Right's 2002 guidance translates into healthy net margins of just over 8%.
The company hasn't provided a profit outlook for next year, but analysts think it will earn $1.67 a share. Keep in mind that this is the same bunch of Wall Street visionaries who have underestimated Right's earnings performance by $0.11 a share over the past four quarters. Either way, if even the time-tested sandbaggers think that the company will continue its growing ways, the prognosis looks pretty bright for Right.
The market's harsh performance until just recently has shed some light on the fact that there really are few true all-weather stocks out there. Right is there, beaming. Yes, you can have your poncho and your suntan lotion, too.