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PageGroup lifts outlook as tech hiring drives earnings to pre-pandemic levels

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(Reuters) -Global recruitment firm PageGroup Plc raised its annual profit outlook for the second time in three months on Wednesday, as robust hiring in the tech sector drove its earnings above pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter.

Recruiters globally suffered last year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced most businesses to halt hiring, before fast pace of vaccinations along with ease of restrictions in some markets encouraged companies to resume recruiting.

PageGroup, which helps hire executives, professionals and clerical staff, said it expects annual operating profit of around 155 million pounds ($210.82 million), up from the 125 million-135 million pounds range it gave in July.

Page said its third-quarter gross profit came in at 228.1 million pounds, an about 65% surge, compared with the pandemic-hit 2020 and 13% above the 2019 levels, with earnings from its biggest EMEA market rising about 46% and the Americas business more than doubling year-on-year.

The robust performances in the third quarter and in September have increased the firm's confidence in annual outlook, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ingham said, adding that pandemic-related uncertainties persisted, besides supply chain challenges and inflationary pressures.

The company, which undertook job cuts during the pandemic, said total headcount at the end of the third quarter was 7,478, compared with 6,081 and 7,789 in corresponding periods in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

($1 = 0.7352 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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