MSB and Harvey Nash drop on profit warnings

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The Independent Online

Shares in recruitment firms MSB International and Harvey Nash came under the cosh yesterday as both admitted to tougher market conditions. MSB stocks fell 33 per cent to 59.5p, while Harvey Nash shares fell 24 per cent to close at 117.5p.

While MSB, an IT recruitment firm, admitted it was experiencing a "similar trend" to those companies which had warned of tight trading conditions, it would not give any guidance for the year ended 31 January 2002.

It said: "The board would expect to see improved trading through the latter part of the first half of the year. However, this has not occurred in 2001. On the contrary, there has been a slowdown across the technology markets."

Separately, Harvey Nash, which warned in June that market conditions had worsened, said it did not see any evidence of a recovery.

It said: "We stated at our AGM on 5 June that market conditions had deteriorated in the US and the business was facing signs of softening demand in our UK and continental European operations. We do not yet see any evidence of recovery in those markets and our executive search business across Europe continues to be affected by this softening of demand."

Harvey Nash estimated that pretax profits would be between £500,000 to £1m in the first half although the figures would be clouded by a £1.2m exceptional charge to cover cost-cutting. Those measures will save the company £7.5m a year.