Company results and a two speed global recovery?

Some contradictory economic indicators this week from assorted company results.

The Tribal Group announced pretty poor figures, with profit before tax for the half year down to £4.6 million from £7.7 million in 2009. Tribal are heavily dependent on UK public sector consulting, interim and recruitment work.  They're a good firm, but these results show the cutbacks beginning to bite.  Given that the election and the cuts didn't happen until well into their half year, the next 6 months will be very challenging.

On the other hand, at Michael Page, the recruitment firm, profits are up 42% year on year and the firm added 310 staff to June 2010. But most of this growth was  outside of the UK, and their core finance and accounting sector grew by only 2%; while growth was double digit in developing recruitment markets such as Asia and Latin America.

Finally, Germany's largest construction company, Hochtief,  announced profits of 301 million Euros in the first half of 2010, up 6% on the previous year.  But what I found interesting was the divergence between their performance in Europe where orders shrank by more than two-thirds in the second quarter, as opposed to their very strong results from Asia and Australasia.  Their Australian subsidiary, Leighton, is the driving force for the group it seems.  As Reuters reports,

The group's quarterly new orders were almost double the volume that had been expected .... with close to three-quarters of orders coming from the Asia Pacific region, raising hopes for robust sales in the years ahead.

This all suggests that we are in a very sector and country specific period of the global 'recovery'.  If you've got strong export business in Asia and the developing countries, or subsidiaries there, you are probably doing OK at worst and possibly much better than that.  If your customers are western Governments, or consumers in most developed countries...then things don't look so good.

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