LONDON -- The shares of Michael Page International (LSE:MPI) fell 6% to 374 pence during early London trade this morning after the mid cap revealed "tough economic conditions and weak market confidence" had contributed to a difficult first quarter.

Michael Page, the white-collar recruiter with offices in 33 countries, also warned that second-quarter trading conditions would remain challenging amid testing trading conditions.

The company, delivering its Q1 results, revealed a significantly weaker performance within its core European markets. Gross profits within the company's French and German permanent recruitment operations declined by 17% and 27%, respectively, while profits throughout the group's European, Middle East, and African operations dived 15%.

Responding to the weak first quarter, Michael Page announced that it had continued its cost-cutting measures and shed a further 57 jobs across the group.

Chief executive Steve Ingham claimed:

Overall, we have had a robust first quarter. However, to target our long-term growth and profit opportunities, we have continued to invest in our key growth markets of China, South East Asia, Latin America, Germany and, now, North America. We are also actively managing our operating cost base. Combined, these two will deliver long-term profitable growth to our shareholders.

With a market cap of 1.2 billion pounds, Michael Page trades at around 31 times 2012 earnings and offers a prospective dividend yield of 2.5%. The company's balance sheet also boasts net cash of 56 million pounds.

Of course, whether today's 6% share-price decline, the current valuation, and the general prospects for white-collar recruiters all combine to make Michael Page a "buy" is something only you can decide.

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