A gradually recovering economy, backed by upbeat manufacturing and service activities, led to additional hiring and wage increase. These factors, coupled with higher technology adoption and the success of the work-from-home trend and the hybrid working model, are benefiting the Zacks Staffing industry.
Insperity, Inc.NSP, Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. CCRN and Kforce, Inc. KFRC are some stocks that are likely to gain from the abovementioned industry trends. However, job loss concerns amid market uncertainties persist.
The Zacks Staffing industry comprises companies, which provide a wide range of services related to human resources, and workforce solutions and services. These include employment screening, recruitment (both for temporary staffing and long-term placements), retirement solutions, human capital management, payroll management, performance management, organizational planning, and financial and expense management. Some industry participants also provide staffing and risk consulting services, professional staffing services and solutions in the United States and internationally, and business solutions to improve the performance of small and medium-sized businesses as well as organizational consulting services worldwide.
What’s Shaping the Future of the Staffing Industry?
Healthy Demand Environment:The industry has been witnessing growth in revenues and income over the past few years, which enabled most players to pay out stable dividends and repurchase shares. The industry also stands to benefit from the resumption of business activities, which were postponed or restricted by the coronavirus-triggered strict lockdowns across the globe. This led to additional hiring and wage increase.
Economic Recovery: The staffing industry stands to benefit from the gradual resumption of business activities, which were postponed or restricted due to the coronavirus-induced strict lockdowns across the globe.
The industry is a major beneficiary of manufacturing and service activities, which in turn, are dependent on economic health. The Institute for Supply Management measured that Manufacturing PMI and Services PMI clocked the 29th consecutive month of expansion in October. A steady economic recovery is evident from the third-quarter 2022 GDP number, which, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, increased at an annual rate of 2.6%, against a decline of 0.6% witnessed in second-quarter 2022.
This steadily improving U.S. economy, backed by an uptick in manufacturing and service activities, led to additional hiring and wage increase. The U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October. Average hourly earnings in October increased 12 cents to $32.58, registering a 4.7% increase from the year-ago period’s reported figure. Average weekly earnings in October increased $4.14 to $1,124.01, registering a 3.8% increase from the year-ago period’s reported figure.
Increased Adoption of Technologies: Technology-based recruiting techniques like social media, mobile technology, artificial intelligence and Big Data have become popular. Video-conferencing tools, such as Google Meet, Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, are being used to communicate with clients, conduct interviews and meetings, manage staff virtually plus handle remote training and remote surveillance. Also, technologies like cloud and blockchain offer more storage and safety to HR data. These trends should keep the demand for staffing services in good shape.
The COVID-induced remote working model led to cost savings for many firms by bringing down their spending on real estate and reducing business travel. Staffing companies are also finding new opportunities with the digitization of the workforce and demand for software-as-a-service solutions to meet new challenges in the current scenario.
Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Encouraging Prospects
The Zacks Staffing industry, which is housed within the broader Zacks Business Services sector, currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #91. This rank places it in the top 36% of more than 250 Zacks industries.
The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bright near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.
The buy-side analysts covering the companies in this industry have been increasing their estimates for a while. Over the past year, the industry’s consensus earnings estimate for the current year has increased 7.2%.
Before we present a few stocks that investors can buy or retain given their sturdy potential, let’s take a look at the industry’s recent stock market performance and current valuation.
Industry’s Price Performance
The Zacks Staffing industry has outperformed the broader Zacks Business Services sector but lagged the Zacks S&P 500 composite over the past year.
The industry has declined 26.6% over this period compared with a 46.8% decline of the broader sector. The Zacks S&P 500 composite has lost 21.4% in the said time frame.
One-Year Price Performance
Industry’s Current Valuation
On the basis of EV-to-EBITDA (enterprise value to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), which is commonly used for valuing staffing stocks because of their high debt levels, the industry is currently trading at 5.35X compared with the S&P 500’s 11.16X and the sector’s 20.55X.
Over the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 13.26X, as low as 3.63X and at the median of 7.94X, as the charts below show.
3 Staffing Stocks to Keep a Close Eye on
We are presenting three stocks that are well-positioned to grow in the near term.
Cross Country Healthcare: This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company provides innovative healthcare workforce solutions and staffing services. CCRN’s diverse client base includes clinical and non-clinical settings, servicing acute care hospitals, physician practice groups, outpatient and ambulatory-care centers, nursing facilities, both public schools and charter schools, rehabilitation and sports medicine clinics, government facilities and homecare. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for CCRN’s 2022 EPS has moved up 6.4% in the past 90 days. CCRN’s stock has gained 33.1% in the past year.
Price & Consensus: CCRN
Insperity: This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company provides human resources and business solutions to improve business performance for small and medium-sized businesses. An increase in the average number of worksite employees paid per month has been aiding Insperity’s top line. Insperity updated its 2022 guidance. The company projects adjusted earnings in the band of $5.23-$5.37 per share (prior view: $4.68-$5.25). Adjusted EBITDA is anticipated in the range of $335-$342 million (prior view: $305-$335 million). Average WSEEs are expected to be 295,100-295,800 (prior view: 294,600-297,200). The Zacks Consensus Estimate for NSP’s 2022 EPS has moved up 7.1% in the past 90 days. NSP’s stock has declined 6.3% in the past year.
Price & Consensus: NSP
Kforce: This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) Florida-based company provides professional staffing services and solutions in the United States and internationally.Kforce’s technology staffing and solutions business has helped it stay competitive amid these challenging times. The rising demand for technology solutions has enabled Kforce to increase investments in the cloud-based, technology-enabled operating model. This is expected to supplement the company’s growth amid coronavirus-induced dependency on technology. Apart from this, it is anticipated to benefit from modifications in its business model and reduction of operating costs.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Kforce’s 2022 EPS has improved 1.9% in the past 90 days. KFRC stock has declined 26.1% over the past year.
Price & Consensus: KFRC
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