March 5, 2020 / 8:06 AM / a month ago

Recruiter PageGroup says coronavirus outbreak could further hit profit

(Reuters) - Global recruiter PageGroup (PAGE.L) said on Thursday gross profit fell by 3% in the first two months of 2020, mainly hurt by the coronavirus outbreak and expects to be hit further by the fast-spreading virus.

Coronavirus has disrupted global business supply chains, denting recruitment plans for many companies and recruiters. On Tuesday, rival Robert Walters Plc (RWA.L) warned that the outbreak could hurt profit in 2020.

“Looking forward, in Greater China, many of our clients have not been able to return to work with the same speed and therefore we expect a significant impact in March, one of our largest months of the year, and potentially beyond,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Ingham said.

PageGroup which employs around 550 people across nine offices in China, said it was too early to estimate the virus’ impact to its operations and will continue to monitor the situation.

The company, which helps hire executives, professionals and clerical staff in sectors from banking and financial services to energy, reported operating profit for 2019 of 146.7 million pounds ($188.92 million), in line with its expectation of between 140 million pounds to 150 million pounds.

Shares of the FTSE 250 company, which gained 16% last year, is seen opening down as much as 3% according to a trader.

Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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