Super Bowl admeister Monster Worldwide (NASDAQ:MNST), which operates the Monster online career service and other businesses, last night reported third-quarter financial results that suggest a business performing pretty well despite the current economic and job environment.

Somewhat perplexingly, Monster Worldwide's job search service actually performs better as a business in good economic times, when there are fewer active job seekers out there. The service, which accounts for most of the company's revenue and operating profit, is paid by the recruiters and corporations that use it. (It's free for job seekers.)

It's free for searchers, and when lots of people are looking for work -- as is the case today -- there's less need for companies to outsource in order to find qualified candidates. (We discussed this a bit more broadly in an article earlier this month that took a look at recent Labor Department data.)

But the doors can't close while Monster Worldwide waits for a prolonged uptick in the economy. Management must earn its keep -- and they're doing pretty well so far this year. Monster Worldwide managed to grow revenues year over year and turn in a net profit, in part by managing costs.

The operating model is leaner since the company spun off its eResourcing and executive search units in March, creating Hudson Highland Group (NASDAQ:HHGP). While operating margins fell year over year, they're improved from Q2.

Investors are sticking with Monster Worldwide, its shares outperforming the S&P 500 by quite a bit these last 12 months. So while the company appears stable and well-managed, investors thinking about a purchase at recent prices -- the shares are down in morning trading, but still appear fully valued based on projected 2004 EPS growth -- should consider whether the share price already reflects an employment environment that doesn't yet exist.

Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at