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HCL Says Trading Is Robust

Healthcare Locums plc, the UK's largest and fastest growing specialist health and social care staffing company, has provided the following update on its trading for the period to end November 2008:
Trading continues to be robust with consistent month on month revenue and profit growth throughout the year. November 2008 was the best performing month in the Company's five year history. Group revenue run rate based on November performance equates to approximately 180 million per annum (2007: 134.9 million actual), reflecting an annualised run rate gross margin of approximately 56 million (2007: 31.2 million actual).
Combined analyst forecasts for the Group's full financial year, ending 31 December 2008, state a pre-tax profit of 18.2 million (2007: 11.9 million actual). The Company states that it is confident of meeting this market forecast.
The Company anticipates continuing strong growth of the business into 2009. The Company notes that equity analysts have recently substantially upgraded their forecasts for 2009. The upgraded consensus figure for pre-tax profit for year ending 31 December 2009 is now 31.8 million.
The Group's growth is being driven by strong performance in all three of its UK operating divisions as well as its overseas businesses. In all three UK divisions there continues to be a surfeit of demand for skilled and appropriately qualified temporary and permanent staff coupled with continuing limited supply to meet these requirements.
The National Health Service, the primary customer for the Group, has not been impacted by the current economic downturn and the Government is committed to expanding the service to meet the needs of the country. Revenues continue to be driven by ongoing Government investment in the National Health Service.
The Doctors' division has delivered strong growth, responding to the opportunities presented by a retiring generation of permanent GPs in the UK as well as the constant requirements for medical staff in the NHS and private sectors and also internationally.The Qualified Social Workers division has increased market share in 2008. Local authorities are increasing investment in recruiting well qualified and experienced social workers and the current shortfall in appropriate candidates continues to provide excellent opportunities for the Qualified Social Workers division. The Allied Health Professionals division remains the market leader in this specialised sector.
The Group's international permanent placement division is also performing well with double digit growth evident across our offices following major contract wins earlier in 2008.
Kate Bleasdale, Chief Executive of Healthcare Locums plc, commented:
"We are operating in a market place that is not exposed to the negative impact of the wider economic environment. The opportunities for our business are very exciting with a UK health and social care flexible staffing market worth in excess of 1.4 billion annually, and an international market for permanent placements of healthcare professionals that is worth over 8 billion. We expect to deliver a strong financial performance for 2008 having focused upon solid organic growth, and look forward to an even better performance in 2009."

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