Michael Page Expects Challenging Conditions to Continue

LONDON -- Michael Page (ISE: MPI.L) , the specialist professional recruitment firm, saw its first-half adjusted pre-tax profits drop by 21% to 36.1 million pounds -- down from 45.5 million pounds in 2011. The company blamed difficult market conditions.

Chief executive Steve Ingham pointed at the "seasonally quieter summer period in both continental Europe and the UK," alongside the "ongoing backdrop of economic uncertainty," as main factors for the slump.

In its half-year results, the company reported broadly flat gross profit of 273.9 million pounds, down only -0.5% from 2011's H1 gross profit of 275.1 million pounds. Michael Page also announced that the business remains profitable in all key markets and believes itself to be in a strong position to prosper when the economy recovers.

Ingham continued:

The Group is financially strong, with net cash of 32.4 million pounds. We remain well placed to take advantage of any recovery in the markets in which we operate. At this time, we expect our full year operating profit from trading activities to be broadly in line with current market estimates.

Although basic earnings per share were down 39% from the same point last year, the interim dividend has been held at 3.25 pence. As a result of the news as a whole, shares dipped only marginally on the news this morning, opening at 375.90 pence from last night's close of 379 pence and rebounding to 378.4 pence at the time of writing.

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