Are you a night owl? A shareholder in international HR powerhouse Adecco (NYSE:ADO)? If you answered "yes" to both those questions, you're in luck. Not only does the company report its Q4 and full-year 2006 earnings on Friday, but it does so at the unholy -- at least to East Coast morning people -- hour of 1 a.m. Put a pot of coffee on for me, too, OK?

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Worldwide, 18 analysts track Swiss-based Adecco. Fourteen of them rate the stock a buy, three a hold, and one a sell. Stateside, we only have two analysts watching Adecco, both rating it a buy.
  • Revenues. Our local analysts don't seem to predict Adecco's quarterly performance. But on average, they expect a 19% rise in annual sales to $25.9 billion.
  • Earnings. They predict the year's profits will total $0.90 per American Depositary Receipt. (Each ADR represents just one-quarter of a Swiss share of common stock.)

What management says:
CEO Dieter Scheiff pronounced himself "pleased" with Adecco's "good performance" last quarter, highlighting 11% organic revenue growth and "gross margin enhancements" that trickled down to form a 70-basis-point bump in the firm's operating margin for the quarter (4.6%). He further reiterated that the firm aims to achieve 7% to 9% long-term annual revenue growth, 5% or better operating margins, and returns on capital in excess of 25% by 2009.

What management does:
Adecco's certainly moving in the right direction to reach these goals. Its 19% revenue growth in 2006, if achieved, is a far sight better than the firm's long-term target growth. Adecco's rolling gross and net margins have grown steadily in each quarter for the last year. Rolling operating margins in particular have grown for three quarters straight, surpassed their levels of a year ago, and closed the gap with the targeted 5% level to just 120 basis points.





























All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ending in the named months.

One Fool says:
According to Scheiff, the firm's primary revenue drivers in the third quarter have been Germany, the Nordic countries, and the U.K. and Ireland, where revenues increased 140%, 48%, and 20% versus last year, respectively. The firm is doing worst in the U.S. (with a silver lining), where revenues inched up just 3% year over year, and performance in France, Iberia (Spain and Portugal), and Japan also lagged Adecco's long-term goal. Italy was right on target at 11%.

Oh, and that silver lining here in the States? Adecco's doing more work in the finance and legal spheres, which produce higher margins, helping to boost operating profitability for the U.S. segment by a good 50 basis points.

On a final note, one of the most interesting things about following the staffing companies is learning what they have to say about the economy in general. In this regard, you may recall that the quarterly outlook from global powerhouse Manpower (NYSE:MAN) was a bit limp, while U.S.-focused Spherion (NYSE:SFN) had a positively ebullient outlook. Chalk up one more "yes" vote for the worldwide economy trending toward growth, because Adecco sees "key indicators for the global staffing services market continu[ing] to point to a favourable growth for the industry." Let's hope that holds true when Friday's results come out.

Check out the competition, and read what they have to say about the economy, in:

You can check out any of the Fool's newsletters with a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Fool's disclosure policy likes chocolate, mountains, and watches.