We all know we have been in a tough economy during the past several years. A look across Wall Street or maybe within your own family shows difficult times: Downsizing, reduced hours, layoffs and reduced income. Many Americans are still struggling to get back on their feet and get a fresh start.
And while more than 20 million people look for jobs, there is an employment boom happening in unexpected sectors -- health care, biotech and life sciences.
But the sad fact is hospitals are often understaffed and overworked. Today's problems could become a major crisis as demand for health care services starts to overwhelm hospitals across the United States when Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014.
As a result, many firms are turning to staffing agencies to find short- and long-term placement contracts, contract-to-hire and direct-hire professionals.
And that's why investors of specialized staffing companies like On Assignment Inc. (Nasdaq: ASGN) could make huge profits.
On Assignment is a leading global provider of staffing solutions for highly skilled professionals in the health care, information technology (IT) and life science industries. One of its divisions includes Healthcare Staffing, which focuses on traveling nurses. This is a key benefit to hospitals that utilize traveling nurses such as the Medical University of South Carolina.
In the technology segment, On Assignment provides solutions to hospitals as they increase their dependence on computers and electronic medical records. Its IT staffing solutions connect engineers and professionals with clients through the company's 11 recruiting centers across North America and Europe.
Shares of On Assignment have already gone through a surge this year. Take a look at the chart below…
And I think this bullish growth has a lot more room to continue.
The company's accelerating growth rate can be seen in its earnings. Just a little more than a year ago, earnings were 65 cents a share and are estimated to jump 40% to 94 cents a share this quarter.
In addition, On Assignment has the highest year-over-year revenue growth within the staffing industry. Revenue in 2012 is shaping up to be a stellar year. Third-quarter revenue was $388.3 million, an 139% increase over last year. Net earnings increased significantly from $7.8 million in the third quarter of 2011 to $17.4 million for the third quarter of 2012.
The stock's current price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 22 is lower than the industry average of 24, showing it is slightly undervalued. Additionally, with the labor market steadily improving, now seems like a great time for a company like On Assignment to keep trending upward.
The May acquisition of Apex Systems (previously sixth-largest IT staffing firm in the country) has been a huge boost to the On Assignment's revenue, as the deal has provided operational advantages and a larger customer base for On Assignment.
Risks to Consider: The economy could take a turn for the worse if taxes rise due to the fiscal cliff, lowering the demand for skilled workers. Additionally, the effect of Obamacare on certain industries could negatively affect On Assignment's bottom line. For example if it becomes more costly to hire employees, then there may be fewer companies and hospitals contracting On Assignment's services. However, even faced with these risks, there is still plenty of upside for On Assignment ahead.
Action to Take --> Buy On Assignment up to $21 a share. I see this stock up 30-50% in 2013 while hospitals and companies in the sector go on a hiring spree to keep up with demand as Obamacare takes effect.