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Monster Worldwide reports loss; exits Brazil, Mexico & Turkey

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

(Reuters) - Online recruitment company Monster Worldwide Inc, which is up for sale, reported a quarterly loss and said it had exited its businesses in some developing markets to focus on its core North American and European businesses.

Monster shares fell as much as 14 percent to $5.01 on Thursday morning, adding to a one-quarter fall since the company said almost a year ago it was reviewing strategic alternatives.

The recruitment company, which closed its operations in Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, said it continued to pursue a sale of the full company but the process was moving "very slowly".

The parent of Monster.com retained Stone Key Partners and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in March 2012 to review strategic alternatives.

Monster has since moved to dispose of several businesses and said on Thursday it will concentrate on its most profitable markets in North America, Europe, South Korea and India.

Monster said on Thursday it had also sold its money-losing China operations to Saongroup, a Dublin-based recruitment firm, but had retained a 10 percent stake in the combined Chinese business.

The company's businesses in China and developing markets accounted for about $50 million of revenue and $85 million of operating expenses in 2012, Chief Financial Officer James Langrock said on a call with analysts. Monster had total revenue of $890.4 million in 2012.

The company has been hurt by weak job markets in the United States and Europe, which generate the lion's share of its revenue, as well as growing competition from social networking sites.

Demand has shifted away from Monster's generalized recruitment website to more specific, niche-focused employment websites that allow workers and companies to connect directly.

FOURTH-QUARTER LOSS

Monster reported its second net loss in two years, hurt by restructuring charges and an uncertain economic environment in Europe.

CEO Sal Iannuzzi said he did not believe the economic situation in Europe was getting worse, but said it remained "at a low level", while signs of recovery in the United States were tentative.

Monster reported a net loss of $73 million, or 66 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $10.9 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company recorded pre-tax charges of $23 million during the three months ended December and said it expects additional charges of $27 million to $37 million in the first half of 2013.

Excluding items, the company earned 8 cents per share.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $211.2 million.

Bookings - the value of all orders received in the quarter - dropped 30 percent in Europe, while total bookings were down 13 percent.

Monster said it expects first-quarter earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of 6 cents to 10 cents per share.

Analysts on average expect the company to earn 8 cents per share in the first quarter, excluding items, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Monster still operates in some developing markets in Eastern Europe, including Poland, Czech, Hungary, and Russia.

(Editing by Rodney Joyce and Sreejiraj Eluvangal)

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