Merrill Keeps 'Near Term Neutral' on TMP Worldwide

Shares took a hit after a press report focused on the online career site's accounting. The company demands a correction

Merrill Lynch keeps near-term buy neutral on TMP Worldwide (TMPW )

Analyst Thatcher Thompson says the neutral rating reflects these concerns: The company has been a rapid acquiror in the last few years with very little payoff. He says such acquisitions prove more difficult to assemble than anticipated. Also, the merger/integration charges have become recurring over the last three years. He says the company's key asset is Monster, which has been an Internet success story but appears to be facing slower growth. Thompston notes TMP announced it was shutting down its acquisition program in the third quarter of 2001. The company has a strong balance sheet with no debt, $318M cash, and short term investments.

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