PageGroup shares shot up this morning after reporting record profit levels, despite also warning Brexit could shake the UK jobs market over the year to come.
The Surrey-headquartered recruiter announced gross profits had risen to £170.3m for the first quarter of 2017, up 19.7 per cent on reported basis from £142.2m the year before and up 9.1 per cent on a constant currency basis.
However, PageGroup noted the figures were somewhat boosted by Easter falling in the second quarter this year, compared with the first quarter date last year.
The Americas, which accounted for 14 per cent of the firm's total profits this period, performed particularly strongly for the global recruiter. Gross profits in the first quarter rose to £24.5m, up 33.8 per cent on a reported basis from £18.3m the year before or 15.2 per cent on a constant currency basis.
The UK's performance, on the other hand, faltered. The region pulled in gross profits of just £36.4m, down 0.1 per cent on the year before. The recruiter blamed Brexit-linked uncertainty for the dip and warned it was not clear what was in store for the future of the country's jobs market.
Investors seemed more confident. Shares are trading up 6.6 per cent at 473p at time of writing.
Why it's interesting
Results from recruiters are a strong measure of what the UK jobs market is doing more generally and how willing employers are to take on new staff.
Fellow recruiter Robert Walters reported yesterday its profits for the first three months of the year had been boosted by a surge of activity in the Square Mile.
However, PageGroup, despite reporting a 17.9 per cent increase in reported profits in its accounting and financial services division, was less enthusiastic and noted it was experiencing challenging market conditions in that area.
What PageGroup said
Steve Ingham, chief executive of PageGroup, said:
We are pleased with the strong performance across the majority of our regions, but note the timing of Easter benefited the overall quarterly result.
Furthermore, there remain a number of uncertainties as we continue through 2017, including the impact of Brexit in the UK, elections in Europe and Brazil’s ongoing macro-economic challenges.
Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth, while being able to respond quickly to any changes in market conditions.