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Monster Jumps on Mostly Bullish Talk

An analyst lifts his price target and rating, and the stock climbs nearly 6%.

Monster Worldwide

(MNST) - Get Report

was upgraded by U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Friday, and the research firm raised its price target on the stock.

Analyst Brett Manderfeld believes earnings can increase 50% or more next year "with limited revenue improvement given cost take-out opportunities." He also expects in-line earnings this quarter with flat revenue in the third quarter.

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Manderfeld upgraded Monster to outperform from market perform and raised his price target on the stock to $24 from $18.

"A gradual economic improvement in 2004 could push earnings near 90 cents a share in 2005," he said in a research report. But revenue weakness could prevail in the coming quarters, and as such, the analyst predicted cost-cutting moves in the future at the company's Ad Comms unit.

The analyst views Monster as the "pre-eminent career portal" and projected an operating margin of at least 30% long term, but he pointed out that the company is "about as economically sensitive as it gets."

Shares of Monster closed

Nasdaq

trading up $1.15, or 5.8%, at $20.95.