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Why Hold Strategy is Apt for ManpowerGroup (MAN) Stock Now

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A prudent investment decision involves buying stocks that have solid prospects and selling those that carry risks. At times, it is rational to hold certain stocks that have enough potential but are weighed down by tough market conditions.

Here we focus on ManpowerGroup Inc. (MAN - Free Report) , which has an earnings per share growth rate of 27.1% for 2018 and a VGM Score of B. Moreover, earnings are expected to register 3.3% growth in 2019.

However, the company has underperformed its industry in the past year. The stock has declined 14.7% against the industry’s increase of 27.7%.

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Promising Developments in the Economy

Broadly, the U.S. economy is improving with record lower unemployment level, tight labor market and strong hiring.

The week ended Jun 9 was the 171th straight week in which the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits stayed below the 300,000 threshold, the longest streak since 1969. The average level of jobless claims continues to hover just over the 200,000 mark, which was last seen in the early 1970s. Given these promising developments in the economy, staffing companies stand to gain the most.

Strong Global Footprint

ManpowerGroup is well poised on the back of its global footprint and extensive portfolio of innovative workforce solutions. The company is gaining strength in its businesses spread across Europe and APME (Asia Pacific Middle East) countries.

In the first quarter of 2018, revenues from Southern Europe increased 28.2% year over year to $2,312 million. Growth in permanent recruitment and strong businesses across France and Italy led to the upside. Revenues from Northern Europe were $1417.6 million, up 14.4% year over year. The increase was driven by strong growth in Poland, Finland and Russia. The APME segment’s revenues rose 13.9% year over year to $720.2 million. This uptick was backed by growth in India, China and other APME countries like Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. Collectively, these three segments account for almost 80% of the company’s total revenues.

ManpowerGroup Revenue (TTM)

Acquisition is a Key Catalyst

Acquisitions have also been one of the key catalysts for ManpowerGroup. The company has been continuously acquiring and investing in companies globally. These buyouts include LearnUp (a recruitment company acquired in 2017), CIBER, Inc. (a global information technology consulting, services and outsourcing company, acquired in 2016) and others acquired earlier. With the acquisition of different types of companies, ManpowerGroup continues to strengthen its diversified portfolio.

Additionally, acquisitions contributed 50 basis points to first-quarter 2018 revenues. Further, the company expects buyouts to positively impact its top line by 40 basis points in second-quarter 2018. Revenues are expected to grow between 5% and 7% on a constant-currency basis.

Rewarding Shareholders

ManpowerGroup has an impressive dividend payment and share repurchase history. The company paid dividends of $123.7 million, $118.4 million and $121.0 million to its shareholders in 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively. On May 4, 2018, ManpowerGroup’s board of directors announced a dividend hike of 8.6%, raising the cash dividend from 93 cents per share to $1.01.

The company repurchased shares amounting to $203.9 million, $482.2 million and $580.2 million in 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively. In first-quarter 2018, it repurchased 0.4 million shares for $50.1 million.

Such moves indicate the company’s commitment toward creating value for shareholders and underline its confidence in its business.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Currently, ManpowerGroup has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the broader Business Services sector include The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation (DNB - Free Report) , TransUnion (TRU - Free Report) and FLEETCOR Technologies, Inc. (FLT - Free Report) . All the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The long-term expected earnings per share (three to five years) growth rate for Dun & Bradstreet, TransUnion and FLEETCOR Technologies is  4.5%, 10% and 16.5%, respectively.

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