UBS Upgrades Heidrick & Struggles

Analyst Kelly Flynn says the executive search company's investor confidence should be bolstered by competitor's Korn/Ferry's strong fourth-quarter results

UBS Financial upgrades executive search company Heidrick & Struggles (HSII ) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Kelly Flynn says he is upgrading on valuation and newly raised estimates. He says Heidrick & Struggles is down 32% since peaking at $37.48 3/18. She is now at 44% discount to a 6-year median p-e of 29 times, at a discount to its closest peer Korn/Ferry International on 2006 EV/EBITDA (4.5 times, vs. 5.9 times) basis.

She says while it's understandable Heidrick & Struggles could fall on its below-consensus 2005 revenue guidance of $400 million to $412 million, she thinks strong fourth-quarter results from Korn/Ferry this Wednesday should bolster investor confidence that demand remains strong and Heidrick & Struggles's revenue guidance is conservative.

Flynn raises her $1.20 2005 earnings per share estimate for Heidrick & Struggles to $1.27, and her $1.45 2006 earnings per share estimate to $1.75.

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