Thursday, August 4, 2011

A different kind of NFP preview

The headline blared: JP Morgan warns of a even more disappointing NFP.

The Non-Farm Payroll number that gets released Friday will be watched closely by the markets for a clue as to the strength of the US economy. The problem is, the NFP figure is notoriously noisy.

Watching the employment and temp agency stocks
Instead of monitoring employment statistics, there is another real-time indicator of employment confidence that gets updated every day - that's the performance of the employment and temp agency stocks. So let's take a look at some of the relative performance of the stocks in this industry. The two biggest are MAN and RHI, with market capitalizations of about $3.7b apiece.

The price performance of MAN looks awful. It is obviously in a well-defined downtrend relative to the market.

RHI looks a bit more constructive. The stock rallied above the relative downtrend line, but relative price performance remains weak.

Analysis of this industry is hampered by a number of factors. There aren't a lot of publicly traded companies in the group and some of the stocks are moving on news, e.g. KFRC and SFN. Looking at some of the other smaller cap companies, KELYA remains in a relative downtrend.

...but TBI's relative chart looks like it may be stabilizing its recent trend of underperformance.

Overall, the relative returns of the stocks in the group can only be characterized as weak. Given these conditions, don't expect too much from the NFP release on Friday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't want this to seem like hindsight commentary, but I am just now getting to your blog over the weekend.

I value your work and your honest and straightforward sharing of it and your logical thought processes. So I wanted to mention to you and your readers that I've watched Kelley Services and Robert Half Intl stock prices and charts for nearly a year and a half now like a hawk. Every time a NFP Friday approaches I look for possible ‘tells’ from their charts, seeking any indication that investors in these companies are blessed with either special prescience or, better still, consistently contrary performance.

My conclusion remains that there is no special correlation one way or the other, and I have pretty much given up looking for one.