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Companies Milk Workers For Record Profits

Corporate profits per worker have rebounded to nearly an all-time high, a leading indicator that hiring should be on the way, according to Deutsche Bank.

Companies made $14,447 in profit for each worker in the first quarter of the year, compared to an all-time high of $14,477 in the third quarter of 2006, according to Joseph LaVorgna, Chief U.S. Economist for the firm.

“When companies can no longer cut, the hiring begins,” said LaVorgna, who notes that first quarter corporate profits were up 31 percent from a year ago. “I do believe investors are buying into the recovery. It’s just that Greece and Sovereign risk are the main concerns.”

Except for rare ‘jobless’ recoveries, hiring typically picks up in the latter portion of an economic rebound, confirming an increase in stock prices, particularly those of consumer shares. The S&P 500 is up more than 60 percent from it’s March 2009 low, with retail shares among the biggest beneficiaries.

But Lavorgna’s bullish outlook is not being confirmed so far this week. Best Buy plunged today after saying sales of TVs and gaming products were weaker than expected. Hershey said Monday night it will cut 600 jobs.

“I do not think payrolls will expand because expectations are falling,” said Brian Kelly, founder of Kanundrum Capital and a ‘Fast Money’ trader. Kelly’s point is that not only are the Europe contagion fears delaying hiring decisions from gun-shy CFOs, but will actually lead to a double-dip recession for the globe.

But Lavorgna believes that Europe’s troubles can be contained to the region and not affect growth in the U.S. and China.

These concerns “will go away and we will see higher equity prices by year-end,” said Lavorgna, who’s forecast for the S&P 500 is 1300. A new stock market high and more jobs…now that’s a forecast Wall Street and Main Street can get behind, if it turns out to be true.

For the best market insight, catch 'Fast Money' each night at 5pm ET, and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC.

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Trader disclosure: On June 15, 2010, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders: Finerman and Finerman’s Firm owns (AAPL); Finerman’s Firm owns (BAC) stock and calls; Finerman and Finerman’s Firm own (BAC) preferred; Finerman and Finerman’s Firm owns (BBY); Finerman owns (BP) calls; Finerman and Finerman’s Firm owns (C); Finerman and Finerman’s Firm own (CVS); Finerman owns (GLW); Finerman (JPM); Finerman’s Firm owns (RIG); Finerman’s Firm owns (WMT); Finerman’s Firm is short (IJR); Finerman’s Firm is short (IWM); Finerman’s Firm is short (MOY); Finerman’s Firm is short (SPY); Terranova owns (IPSU), (BX), (PFE), (GMCR), (RSX), (TER), (AXP), (BMO), (BBY), (DIS), (XCO), (SWN), (GLD), (AAPL), (IPI), (SU), (V), (TEVA), (FXE), (FXB); Terranova owns UK Pounds; Terranova owns Euros; Terranova is short the US Dollar; Terranova owns S&P Futures; Adami owns (AGU), (BTU), (NUE), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT); Adami’s wife works at Merck; Grasso owns (ABK), (BAC), (BGP), (C), (DYN), (JPM), (LPX), (NDAQ); Kelly owns (GLD); Kelly owns (GDXJ); Kelly owns (BP) puts; Kelly is short (GS)

For Joe Terranova
Terranova works for (VRTS)
Terranova is chief market strategist of Virtus Investment Partners, LTD.
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (AMKR)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (IGE)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (DBV)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (XLB)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (XLV)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (XLY)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (XLI)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (XLU)
Virtus Investment Partners owns more than 1% of (DRYS)

For Steve Grasso
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (BAX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (DHR)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (MERC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (MSFT)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PDE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PFE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (RDC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (SYMC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (TLM)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (TRV)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (TBT)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners are short (QQQQ)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners are short (AAPL)

Dan Niles
Niles and Alpha One Capital own AAPL, BIDU, PWER, VECO, BMI, ITRI, AKAM, AMR & AAI
Niles and Alpha One Capital are short BBY, STD, BBVA, UBS

Scott Nations
Scott Nations owns (MSFT)