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Michael Page Profit Rises, Led by Permanent Staffing

Michael Page International Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest recruitment company, said fourth-quarter gross profit rose 32 percent, boosted by income from placing people in permanent jobs.

Full-year operating profit from trading activities is expected to be “marginally ahead” of an analysts’ consensus of 70.1 million pounds ($109 million), the Weybridge, England-based company said in a statement today. Fourth-quarter gross profit was 119.8 million pounds.

Michael Page is expanding in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to compensate for weak economies in Britain and Ireland. Fourth-quarter gross profit from permanent staffing gained 40 percent, compared with 10 percent for temporary workers.

The company added 305 staffers to its own workforce during the quarter, bringing the total to 4,498, 27 percent more than at the end of 2009.

Its fastest-growing markets in emerging countries are “almost exclusively” for permanent hires, because they are at an earlier stage in their economic growth, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ingham said in a conference call.

Michael Page fell 2.3 percent to 527.5 pence at the 4:30 p.m. close in London. The shares have fallen 5 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 1.6 billion pounds.

Hiring Outlook

Ingham said it’s “not unreasonable” to expect the company to hire 300 staffers in each of the first two quarters this year, as it has in the past two.

In the U.K., gross profit gained 16 percent over last year’s fourth quarter, to 30.7 million pounds, led by engineering, manufacturing, property and construction. Ingham said private hiring is so far offsetting drops in government jobs caused by budget cuts.

In Michael Page’s Asia-Pacific region, gross profit grew 69 percent to 20.7 million pounds, as offices were opened in China and Singapore.

Rival Hays Plc said its net fees gained 24 percent in the last three months of 2010, led by Asia-Pacific growth.

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