Page Group sees Q3 gross profit improve

Page Group has seen its Q3 gross profit improve 14.1% to £158.6m, from £139.1m. Interim and special dividends totalled £31.7m, to be paid on Oct. 12.

It enjoyed Q3 gross profit gains in EMEA, Asia Pacific and the Americas, but recorded a reduction for the UK.

"The Group delivered gross profit growth of 1.3% in constant currencies and 14.1% at reported rates. Continental Europe and Latin America, outside of Brazil, which combined represented almost half of the Group, delivered strong performances.

"However, in the UK, confidence levels remained fragile and below levels seen earlier in the year. Several of our other larger markets, including Greater China and Brazil also experienced challenging market conditions.

"Activity and trading remained stronger at lower salary levels and in temporary roles and this was reflected by growth of 6% in our Page Personnel business, where temporary recruitment represents over 40% of gross profit," said CEO Steve Ingham in a statement.

"Our Michael Page business, where temporary recruitment represents only 17%, fell by 1%. Overall, temporary recruitment grew by 2%, compared to 1% in permanent.

"The Group continued to benefit from positive foreign exchange movements during Q3, which increased reported gross profit by 12.8 percentage points, or £17.8m. For the full year, we expect foreign exchange to increase our reported gross profit by c.£45m and operating profit by c.£10m.

"With the prevailing uncertainty in the UK, the challenges in some of our other larger markets and the unpredictable nature of the current cycle, we remain cautious in our short-term outlook.

"However, we will continue to progress our strategic projects, such as our European Shared Service Centre, as well as driving profitable growth and taking advantage of growth markets. As always, we remain able to respond quickly to any changes in market conditions.

"Cash generation in the period was particularly strong with net cash of c. £100m at the quarter end, before payment of the interim and special dividends of £31.7m on 12 October. Save for any further movements in foreign exchange, the Board's expectations for the full year remain unchanged."

At 9:16am: (LON:PAGE) Pagegroup Plc share price was +7.8p at 356.6p