As Monster Worldwide’s earnings report approaches, rumors that the job site is once again facing a possible buyout are swirling.
Over the past five years, Monster has been the subject of almost two dozen takeover rumors by electronic news services, brokerages or newspapers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Towards the end of 2011, Bloomberg reported Monster’s evaluation was “absurdly cheap” after it was removed from the S&P 500 and lost almost $5 billion in market value.
“There’s a fear, right or wrong, that the paradigm is shifting somewhat away from the Monster model,” Douglas Arthur, a New York-based analyst at Evercore Partners Inc., told Bloomberg.com.
Possible buyers have run the gamut. Gannett, the publisher that partly owns CareerBuilder, was one of the names in the running. Analysts speculated that Gannett may look to acquire Monster to further supplement revenue from jobs listings that used to run mainly in newspapers.
Other rumored buyers include LinkedIn, which offers services that directly competes with some of Monster’s own suite of products, and search giant Google.
Another possible buyer would be a media company looking to grow its Web presence, other analysts speculated.
Despite consistent rumors year after year, Monster has staved off or shut down acquisitions and has continued to grow its online presence and create strategic partnerships.
In early March 2012 Monster surprised the public by announcing it had retained financial advisers from BofA Merrill Lynch and Stone Key Partners LLC in order to review “strategic alternatives.”
Reuters then reported that LinkedIn was in talks to purchase the job site but backed out after further assessment of the company’s financial state and assets.
In fact, a source close to CNN reported that LinkedIn had “zero interest” in purchasing the site, leading some analysts to speculate that Monster leaked the story to....
Now the end of another quarter brings a fresh round of uncertainty about Monster’s future.
Earlier this week Chris Stuart of Minyanville.com wrote that following Indeed’s recent buyout, Monster could follow its competitor’s lead. It was rumored that the Japanese-based Recruit, which led the acquisition, purchased Indeed for a whopping $1 billion.
But just how much are investors willing to pay for Monster? The job site has seen its valuation plunge to $1.13 billion over the past few years, while in 2006 this figure was $7.5 billion.
“The question here isn’t whether or not Monster is struggling, but whether or not investors might be able to capitalize on the potential acquisition of the company,” Stuart wrote. “Any Monster acquisition won’t be made at the premium paid for Indeed, which is a property on the rise. Yet, Monster still might be a good candidate for a private equity firm looking for a turnaround play.”
The latest rumored buyer is private equity firm Axel Springer, although the company denied it had discussed any deals with Monster