What about some innocent charwomen and piano players? There may be some in San Diego. The temporary staffing companies are out of favor on Wall Street now. AMN Healthcare Services, the largest such firm in health industries, has seen its stock plunge from a high of $29.10 last year to below $17, although earnings and revenues continue to do well. There are problems: demand in the company’s largest market, California, is on the weak side. Long-range hospital administrators may use fewer temps and hire permanent staff. Chairman Steve Francis recently sold $52 million of shares; that’s not too comforting. All told, however, this stock may be a case of an innocent rounded up in a raid.

The market is pounding apparel-retailing stocks too. Shares of Charlotte Russe Holding, whose 390 stores target younger women, have been more than halved from their high of almost $34 last year. But revenue is advancing, profits are holding steady, expansion proceeds, and the company is packing more buyers into its stores. Ashworth, a designer and seller of sportswear, is different. Its sales and earnings are coming down, and it recently cleaned out top management. The stock is down from last year’s high of $8.61 to above $3.50. It pared its losses in the fourth quarter and the stock jumped. Still, it may deserve that paddy wagon.


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