Amid concerns about a labor market recovery, Mark Marcon, an analyst at Wachovia Securities, cut his rating on recruitment firm
Robert Half International
"While there are some positive signs that the labor market has improved slightly, we are not sure that the improvements will continue given some recent economic and market data points," Marcon said. "We are taking a cautious view and expect the labor market will improve at a slower rate than we anticipated."
The stock lost 8.4% to $19.24 Friday.
Marcon cut his 2002 earnings estimate on Robert Half International from 18 cents a share to 9 cents a share, after the company reported second quarter earnings that were down 90% from a year ago. Even as the economy has shown improvement this year, companies are still being very cautious about hiring.
Among the data that suggest to Marcon the labor market is losing some steam are the employment components of the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing and non-manufacturing reports.
Marcon also said the fact that earnings are still under pressure is a problem for the labor market. "The latest selloff on the market has been correlated to a decline in corporate profits," said Marcon. "I do not think you are going to see a ton of hiring at companies when their profits are down."
Marcon doesn't own Robert Half stock but owns shares of
, another staffing firm.