Except for a few stocks -- like Google
Yet Monster is still growing at breakneck speed. Fourth-quarter revenues of $236.8 million were 45% higher than the same period in 2003. Big growth came from the Monster division (the company also has Yellow Pages and recruitment advertising agencies), where revenues increased 64%, to $172 million. Acquisitions helped pump up the numbers, too -- the acquisitions completed in 2003 alone. Net income for the fourth quarter was $24.5 million, up from $12.1 million in the same quarter in 2003.
So what's the problem? Well, analysts have tended to be a bit too bullish on Monster's future. On its conference call, for example, Monster indicated that it expects first-quarter 2005 earnings of $0.16 to $0.17 a share. Consensus estimates were for $0.18 per share.
The U.S. job market has been showing improvement this year, so Monster's estimates could end up being conservative. But to generate substantial growth, Monster realizes it needs to find new markets. To that end, the company also announced its purchase of a 40% stake in ChinaHR.com Holdings for $50 million. The buy will give Monster a significant footprint in the growing online jobs market in China. ChinaHR.com has roughly 3.2 million registered users and 280,000 corporate clients.
Of course, China has been a particularly hot area for Internet mergers and acquisitions, with players like eBay
Moreover, Monster has an option to acquire more than 50% of ChinaHR.com upon an initial public offering or within three years, whichever comes first.
In fact, the IPO market is starting to heat up. And an IPO for ChinaHR.com could turn into a substantial payday for Monster -- Chinese online jobs site 51Job
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares of the companies mentioned in this article.