The company’s fee income or gross profits for its second quarter ending 30 June beat market forecasts by 4%, coming in at £208.2m.
Management are certainly buoyed by its performance, now expecting operating profit for the full year to be 'slightly ahead of consensus expectations' of £134m.
Tellingly, every jurisdiction where Page operates in was in growth mode, apart from its home market the UK. Here net fee income fell 1.9% largely because of ongoing worries about what Brexit actually means for Britain after recent political fallout.
It is not an insignificant market, worth 17% of the group's total net fee income, based on the £36m earned during the quarter.
This likely explains why PageGroup's share price decl;ined 2% to 580p, although its worth remembering that the stock remains close to 10 year highs.
Shares looked at the recruitment sector last year and concluded that those companies not purely focused on the UK were the most investible and Page’s latest results reinforce this proposition.
Page’s largest market, Europe, the Middle East and Africa enjoyed growth of 18.6%, bringing in £100m in the second quarter alone.
FAST ORGANIC GROWTH
Today’s results show that Page has had its fastest organic growth in seven years. Speaking to CEO Steve Ingham recently he said that organic growth is the only way for his company and other large staffers to grow.
This is because especially as some of the markets Page enters have very little recruitment sector penetration anyway. There’s simply nothing to buy.
Brazil is a good example of a nascent recruitment market and one which Page has enjoyed success with. Growth in this country is up 23% from the 12% growth in achieved in the first quarter.
Market estimates of earnings per share for 2018 are likely to increase by low to mid single digits today according to analysts at investment Jefferies.
Being such a highly cash generative business, it had a net cash position of £85m at the end of June, Jefferies expects a special dividend to be declared of between 13p an 15p during the August interim results.
The UK is the only drag on Page although is trading in line with expectations, with the high end Michael Page brand retreating 4% while lower paid Page Personnel up 5%.