The U.S. job market may be slow in regaining its momentum, but employment services company Manpower
According to a July Associated Press report on U.S. jobs growth in June, new jobs are coming on line in fits and starts. Unemployment is down to its lowest level in years, but basically, we're not seeing any huge growth in U.S. employment so far this year.
Compare that with the earnings results Manpower released yesterday. If you net out currency fluctuations:
- Revenues grew 8.2% in Q2 2005 versus the year-ago quarter.
- Net profits increased by 14.2% year over year.
- Earnings per diluted share nearly tripled the rate of revenue growth, coming in at 21.4%.
At first glance, those numbers seem to contradict the AP's report of unimpressive job growth. But there's a caveat: all that growth took place outside the U.S.
As the saying goes, it's a global economy -- and to staff that global economy, Manpower works in 68 countries around the world. As a result, a 2% decline in U.S. services revenue didn't really hurt Manpower's results last quarter. The company made up that loss and more by finding work for jobseekers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and France. (You might ordinarily consider France part of Europe, but apparently, Manpower disagrees.) On average, revenues derived from those foreign sources grew 14% year over year.
Manpower also reversed course this year on the stock dilution for which I criticized it a few months ago. Over the past year, its weighted average share count for shares issued and outstanding declined by 1%. What's more, the company spent more than $206 million of its free cash flow to buy back convertible debentures -- unsecured debt that a creditor can exchange for shares of the borrowing company. As a result, Manpower considerably reduced the "overhang" that had its diluted share count exceeding its basic count by 9% last year.
Buying back that debt consumed a fair chunk of Manpower's cash on hand, but at the same time, it supercharged the company's per-share profits growth numbers, described above. As a result, although the stock fell on a generally green day for Wall Street yesterday, it still sits nearly 10% higher than it was before Tuesday's news.
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Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position, short or long, in Manpower.