Michael Page confounds expectations

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Shares in the company have surged nearly 70% in the past two months, outstripping the gloom in the rest of the recruitment sector.

The stock closed in London at 167 and 1/2p on Friday, a rise of 69% since the start of October. It is now not far below its issue price of 175p when the firm floated in March. Analysts said the firm was a classic cyclical stock which had fallen a long way and was now benefiting from investors looking beyond the economic downturn.

Shares in other recruitment companies, such as Robert Walters, have also risen in the last month or two, but to a lesser extent. Chris Bamberry, an equities analyst at Deutsche Bank, said: &quotMichael Page is more focussed than Robert Walters on permanent staff, rather than temporary. It is therefore seen as more cyclical.&quot

Stephen Puckett, group finance director of Michael Page, said the firm also benefitted from having little exposure to the US market, where recruitment has been hit particularly hard. The firm derived 85% of its revenues from Europe.

Michael Page came under fire for issuing a profit warning just three months after it listed. Its shares tumbled and the Financial Services Authority has been investigating the listing.

The shares are still well below their June peak of 233p. Other recruitment firms also remain much weaker than at the beginning of the year.

Terry Benson, Michael Page's chief executive, said last month that the firm was keeping a careful watch on costs.

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