Our latest HRintelligence eNewsletter has been distributed and it is chock full of industry intelligence, commentary and analysis for HR service providers and we’ve included some of the highlights below.
Top Advertisers for August
Top advertisers, listed alphabetically below, are determined by measuring advertising placements across the major monthly HR trade publications, not including buyer guide or product directory listings.
Aetna, Aflac, Employease, LA Times, MetLife, Private Healthcare Systems, Recruitmax, SPECTRUM Human Resource Systems, Visa
Commentary and Analysis: Visa continued their aggressive new ad campaign for their card that helps employees manage flexible spending accounts (FSA's) and Healthcare Spending Accounts (HSA's). A newcomer this month was the LA Times who placed full-page ads in several major HR trade publications along with CareerBuilder that announces a new job-pullout in the newspaper’s Sunday editions. SPECTRUM Human Resource systems, a provider of HR information systems and frequent member of this list, also ranked as a top advertiser for the month of August. Overall ad placements in the major HR trades remained relatively constant from last month although some vertical-specific trades realized a bump.
Top Editorial Placements for August
To determine the organizations receiving the most media coverage, we look at the number of non-paid editorial placements across the major monthly HR trade publications.
Aon, Employee Benefit Research Institute, Hewitt Associates, IBM, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Motorola, National Business Group on Health, SHRM, Watson Wyatt
Commentary and Analysis: The National Business Group on Health and the Employee Benefit Research Institute made the list as companies receiving the most editorial coverage this month. The fact that these organizations make the list in the same month underscores the continued and growing importance of health care in the employer marketplace. HR suppliers who market services that help to offset and/or lower corporate health care costs are hot right now. One example is health coaching, an affordable health benefit that targets a larger subset of "at-risk" populations to prevent them from becoming costly health problems to companies. This is different from disease management which focuses on the small percentage of employees who already cost employers a bundle in health care costs. The marketing message for health care employee benefit firms is to show how your product/service can reduce health care costs. HR buyers are much more likely to respond to this message now than they were even a few years ago – the timing is right. Sounds simple but few HR suppliers have effectively integrated this messaging into their overall marketing and PR. One firm to watch in the health coaching field who does a great job in messaging is Leade Health. Check them out.
The Current Health of the Human Capital Marketplace
Commentary and Analysis: We are downgrading our rating of the human resource marketplace this month from "Great" to "Good" because there was not enough compelling news to keep the indicator at "Great" - as it has for the last five months. In talking to dozens of HR suppliers, the consensus is things are good but flat. We are, however, very bullish on the space - and if our own HRarketer.com sales are any indication, we will be upgrading our rating soon. In the just over three years of providing the industry's only online marketing and PR service for HR service providers, August was our fourth best ever month of new sales. This tells us suppliers are feeling optimistic and confident about the marketplace.
Overall ad placements in the major HR trades remained the same and some large HR publications actually had a reduction of ads. One HR trade magazine, HR Innovator, ceased operations all together, and even now we still don't know why. There are reasons to be upbeat, though. The human resources marketplace continues to receive a lot of great press as companies invest in HR infrastructure and realize the importance of recruiting, hiring and retaining top talent. Some of the major news this month included:
Recent M&A activity in the HR space:
- TALX announced that its board raised the quarterly cash dividend by 25 percent. According to a recent press release, TALX is one of the few companies where free cash flow was clocking in higher than actual reported earnings. This is a healthy company.
- Monster Worldwide upgraded by JP Morgan from neutral to overweight. JP Morgan says the company’s current share price does not reflect the company's future margin expansion potential.
- Ceridian was also upgraded by JP Morgan (from Underweight to Neutral) mainly because JP Morgan believes Ceridian’s accounting issues have been resolved.
- Kronos Inc. bought the work force management business of CTR Systems Time and Attendance Inc. in order to expand its own direct sales network. The company also announced their founder and CEO Mark Ain is stepping down from his post effective October 31, 2005. Kronos was also upgraded by Piper Jaffray.
- Hewitt’s 3Q profit was up 10 percent and they were upgraded by JMP Securities.
- RBC Capital Markets initiated coverage of Ultimate Software with a "sector perform" rating and set a target price of $18 this year. Meanwhile, First Albany downgraded Ultimate but set a target price of $21 Go figure.
- Towers Perrin acquired Rauser AG, a leading German pensions consultancy.
- Convergys completes acquisition of finance & accounting outsourcing business of Deloitte Consulting Outsourcing.
- Christian & Timbers acquired Feehan Barr Partners, adding capabilities to meet Fortune 500 demands for Chief HR officers.
- CMP Media acquired TechOnLine, a leading provider of online technical education.
- SSA Global Technologies, a global provider of extended enterprise solutions and services, acquired Boniva Software, a provider of human capital management applications.
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee acquired Gordian Health Solutions.
- World Health Alternatives, a healthcare staffing firm acquired Universal Staffing Group, a privately- held staffing company based in Orlando, Florida.
- Metavante Corporation acquired Med-i-Bank, a provider of electronic payment services and debit cards for employee benefit and consumer-directed health care accounts.