August 1, 2008 / 11:36 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-RESEARCH ALERT-JP Morgan downgrades Monster Worldwide

(Changes source, recasts, adds details) Aug 1 (Reuters) - J.P. Morgan Securities downgraded jobs website company Monster Worldwide Inc (MNST.O) to “neutral” from “overweight,” saying the slowing growth, weak economy and lack of positive catalyst could concern investors despite a strong second quarter.

“While we expect the stock to initially react positively to the upside surprise in second quarter, we believe Monster Worldwide may remain range bound in the intermediate term,” analyst Monica DiCenso wrote in a note to clients.

On Thursday, the online careers and recruiting firm posted quarterly earnings of 40 cents a share, 3 cents ahead of average analyst forecast, according to Reuters Estimates.

Monster’s results come amid a downturn in online labor demand as well as wider labor market weakness. The company’s employment index slipped to 157 points in July from 163 in June and 183 in July 2007.

DiCenso cut her forecast for Monster’s 2008 earnings to $1.45 a share from $1.55 a share, citing slowing international markets and continued softness in the United States.

“We still believe that Monster is a good long-term value... However, until we get signs of stabilization in U.S. trends, an improved overseas outlook, or another positive indicator, we are staying on the sidelines,” she added.

Shares of the New York-based company closed at $17.74 Thursday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Mary Meyase in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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