UPDATE 2-Robert Half Q1 misses Street; gives Q2 EPS below view

Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:26pm EDT

* Q1 EPS $0.05 vs. est EPS $0.06

* Q1 rev falls 11 pct

* Sees Q2 EPS $0.03-$0.08 vs. est EPS $0.10

* Sees professional staffing services improving (Adds conference call comments; updates share movement)

April 27 (Reuters) - Staffing firm Robert Half International Inc (RHI.N) posted lower-than-expected quarterly results, hurt by lower margins at two of its segments, and forecast second-quarter earnings below market expectations.

The company, on a conference call with analysts, forecast second-quarter earnings of 3 cents to 8 cents per share, on revenue of $730 million to $780 million.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 10 cents a share, on revenue of $765.9 million for the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Staffing service providers in the United States were hit by the recession as clients cut jobs or froze hiring.

However, the latest report from the Labor Department in April indicated that U.S. employers created jobs in March at the fastest rate in three years as private firms stepped up hiring. [ID:nN01126422]

Robert Half said it is seeing some demand for its professional staffing services as economic conditions improved in North America and other parts of the world.

"Many companies that made deep personnel cuts are having to quickly hire as business demand grows or when they lose workers due to turnover," CEO Harold Messmer said on the call.

The professional staffing division, which accounts for about 7 percent of staffing revenue, posted an operating income of $3.1 million for the quarter, against a loss last year.

Q1 MISS

For the first quarter, the company earned $8.5 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with $8.8 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 11 percent to $737.2 million.

Analysts on average expected earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $750.8 million.

Gross margin at its temporary and consultant staffing segment fell 14 percent to $201.1 million, while permanent placement staffing segment fell 3 percent to $48.6 million.

Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $28.50 in trade after the bell. They closed at $31.40 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Amulya Nagaraj in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Gopakumar Warrier)

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