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Michael Page International Focuses On Headcount In Q3.

Michael Page International Focuses On Headcount In Q3.

Reporting on its third quarter performance, Michael Page picked out the following financial highlights:

&middot Group Q3 gross profit &pound126.5m (&pound133.3m at constant rates of exchange*), 8.3% below (-7.6%*) Q2 2012 and 11.3% below (-6.5%*) Q3 2011

&middot EMEA (39% of Group) Q3 gross profit &pound49.0m (&pound54.1m*), 15.0% below (-13.1%*) Q2 2012 and 16.0% below (-7.2%*) Q3 2011

&middot Asia Pacific (24% of Group) Q3 gross profit &pound30.2m (&pound30.0m*), 1.3% below (-2.7%*) Q2 2012 and 3.2% above (2.6%*) Q3 2011

&middot UK (23% of Group) Q3 gross profit &pound29.5m, 5.2% below Q2 2012 and 10.9% below Q3 2011

&middot Americas (14% of Group) Q3 gross profit &pound17.8m (&pound19.7m*), 4.4% below (-2.7%*) Q2 2012 and 18.9% below (-10.3%*) Q3 2011

&middot Q3 Permanent gross profit (77% of Group) &pound97.9m (&pound103.2m*), 10.4% below (-9.7%*) Q2 2012 and 13.2% below (-8.4%*) Q3 2011

&middot Q3 Temporary gross profit (23% of Group) &pound28.6m (&pound30.1m*), 0.1% below (0.1%*) Q2 2012 and 4.5% below (0.4%*) Q3 2011

&middot Headcount: 5,255 at 30 September 2012, reduced by 31 (-0.6%) since the start of the year and by 66 in Q3 2012

&middot Shares: 2.4m shares purchased into the Employee Benefit Trust during the third quarter at a cost of &pound8.5m (0.8% of issued share capital)

&middot Dividend: &pound9.9m interim for 2012 (3.25p per share) paid on 5 October 2012

&middot Net cash at 30 September 2012 in the region of &pound50m (&pound32.4m at 30 June 2012), or &pound40m after payment of the interim dividend

* Denotes where overseas results denominated in foreign currencies have been translated at constant rates of exchange for constant currency illustrative purposes.

Commenting on Q3 trading, Steve Ingham, Chief Executive said: "As we stated in our July update and August half year results, we were anticipating a challenging second half given the seasonally quieter summer period, the tough year-on-year comparables and the ongoing backdrop of economic uncertainty. The third quarter did indeed prove to be challenging across all our regions. As a result, the Group reported an 8% decrease in gross profit compared to the second quarter and, against last year, a decrease of 11%, or 7% before the impact of exchange rates.

"It remains key for us to manage our cost base, principally headcount, to reflect market conditions. To that end, we reduced headcount in the EMEA, Americas and UK regions, excluding the annual graduate intake in the UK. In Asia Pacific our headcount was broadly flat. As usual, the headcount reduction was achieved principally through natural attrition.

"Whilst managing our cost base is important, so too is retaining and growing our platform for when markets improve. We believe we have the right balance and the business remains profitable throughout all our major markets.

"In most regions activity levels improved towards the end of Q3, however, we do anticipate another challenging fourth quarter, with economic conditions and market confidence likely to remain poor for the foreseeable future. The Group continues to be financially prudent, with net cash in the region of &pound50m at the end of Q3. Reflecting these challenging conditions, we expect our full year operating profit* to be slightly below current analyst expectations **."

* Operating profit from trading activities before the exceptional items announced at the half year

** Reuters consensus &pound67.7m. Bloomberg consensus &pound67.8m

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