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UK — Michael Page seeing recovery in several markets

05 March 2010
 

Michael Page International Plc (MPI:LSE), the specialist professional recruitment company, announces full year results for the year ended 31 December 2009.

Revenues were down by -26% from 972.8 million Pounds in 2008 to 716.6 million Pounds in 2009. On a constant currency basis revenues were down by -32%.

Gross profit was down by -36% from 552.7 million Pounds in 2008 to 351.7 million Pounds in 2009. On a constant currency basis, gross profit was down by -41%.

Profit before tax was down by -85% from 140.1 million Pounds in 2008 to 21.1 million Pounds in 2009. Head count at 31 December 2009 was down by -1,394 to 3,549 since the start of 2009.

In the UK (32% of 2009 gross profits) revenues fell by -24.9% from 365.6 million Pounds in 2008 to 274.6 million Pounds in 2009. Gross profits fell by -37.3% from 176.7 million Pounds in 2008 to 110.8 million Pounds in 2009.
 
In the EMEA region (47% of 2009 gross profits) revenues fell by -27.1% from 426.4 million Pounds in 2008 to 311.1 million Pounds in 2009. Gross profits fell by -36.7% from 258.8 million Pounds in 2008 to 163.7 million Pounds in 2009. In constant currency gross profit fell by -43.9%.

In France (38% of EMEA), where the group has its second largest and most established business after the UK, there was a noticeable increase in the number of permanent placements in Q4 2009.

In the Netherlands (14% of EMEA) and Germany (13% of EMEA), significant sequential growth was not achieved in the fourth quarter of 2009. The group started Page Personnel in Germany.

Italy (8% of EMEA) and Spain (8% of EMEA) both delivered double digit sequential growth in the fourth quarter and traded profitably every month throughout 2009.

In 2003 Michael Page submitted an initial claim to HMRC for overpaid VAT which was rejected. Michael Page appealed and subsequently filed amended claims for 26.5 million Pounds, net of fees, covering the period from 1980 to 2004. In March 2009, Michael Page filed amended claims for a further refund of an additional 80 million Pounds, net of fees, of overpaid VAT covering the same period.

In June 2009 Michael Page received a payment from HMRC of 26.5 million Pounds, net of fees, as part settlement of these claims and in July 2009 received 10.9 million Pounds, net of fees, of statutory interest.

On 25 September 2009, Michael Page received a letter from HMRC which stated that, 'HMRC have reviewed the recent payment and are now of the view that the claim in whole or in part should not have been paid'.

An agreement has now been reached in principle for MPI to retain 28.5 million Pounds (net of fees) of the 37.4 million Pounds it received. The group has not recognised any amount in the Income Statement due to the remaining uncertainty pending formal contractual agreement.

Commenting on the results, Steve Ingham, Chief Executive of Michael Page, said "2009 was an extreme test of the group's strategy and I am delighted that the business responded well to the challenge. We maintained our market presence across our network of offices, disciplines and countries, invested modestly in new businesses and maintained our track record of being profitable in every quarter."

"We are encouraged by the 10% sequential growth in group gross profits we recorded in the fourth quarter of 2009, with three of our four regions recording quarter on quarter improvement. We are now seeing a recovery in several markets and geographies and whilst the strength of this recovery is uncertain, we believe that, with a strong balance sheet position and spare capacity in the business, we are well positioned to improve significantly our performance in 2010."

Deutsche Bank Equity Research commented on the results "despite the lack of trading outlook and no further company guidance, we have chosen to upgrade our forecasts."

In early trading Michael Page's shares were down by -1.42% to 389.40 Pence.

 

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