* Says more caution in UK hiring among multinationals
* Hiring for finance jobs, higher paid positions most hit
* UK Q3 gross profit fell 4.7 pct, less than expected
* Group Q3 gross profit up 1.3 pct
* Stock up over 4 pct, positive read across for peers
(Adds CEO, analyst comments, peer details, share movements)
By Esha Vaish
Oct 11 Confidence among employers in Britain is
"fragile" following the country's vote to leave the European
Union, with multinational firms holding off from hiring,
particularly in the financial services sector, recruiter
PageGroup said on Tuesday.
The company, which makes about a quarter of its earnings in
Britain, said its gross profit there fell 4.7 percent in the
three months to Sept. 30 at constant currencies and it would cut
about 20-30 UK jobs if there was no improvement this quarter.
"At the moment they're slightly fewer jobs and (firms are)
taking slightly longer to turn jobs into new appointments ....
It's that sort of caution we're talking about, rather than jobs
getting pulled," Chief Executive Steve Ingham told Reuters,
adding he did not expect the British recruitment market to
recover this quarter.
Although British consumers have taken "Brexit" in their
stride, helping the economy show some resilience, surveys
released on Monday suggested firms are cautious about investing,
stoking fears unemployment could rise.
PageGroup, which mainly finds candidates to fill permanent
positions, said employers were particularly wary when recruiting
for higher paid jobs.
The company is the first UK recruiter to give an insight on
hiring trends after the Brexit vote in June. Staffing firms such
as PageGroup, Hays, Robert Walters and SThree
are seen as gauges of wider economic health because
people tend to switch jobs more often when confidence rises.
The 4.7 percent drop in PageGroup's UK gross profit to 37.8
million pounds ($47 million) in the third quarter was steeper
than the 2.3 percent fall in the previous quarter, but less than
four analysts forecast, as hiring for lower paid and temporary
positions held up better than expected.
That could be good news for Hays, which has a strong UK
position in such roles, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note.
Hays, which reports quarterly results on Tuesday, said last
month hiring in Britain weakened sharply after Brexit. Robert
Walters reports results on Monday, having previously blamed
Brexit for lower first-half profit.
PageGroup shares were up 4.2 percent to 363.6 pence at 1025
GMT. Hays and Robert Walters were both up 2.5 percent.
PageGroup's worldwide gross profit rose 1.3 percent at
constant currencies to 158.6 million pounds, helped by strong
growth in Latin America outside of Brazil and in continental
Europe - indicating the concerns around Brexit have not yet
spread to the rest of the region.
It announced interim and special dividends totalling 31.7
million pounds from its cash pile of about 100 million. Morgan
Stanley expects a similar payout in the first half of 2017.
($1 = 0.8042 pounds)
(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Kate Holton
and Mark Potter)