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Largest accounting staff agency misses earnings and sends shares tumbling

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The nation's largest accounting and finance staffing firm had a rough day Friday, with shares tumbling more than 9 percent after the company released a disappointing earnings report.

The company, Robert Half International, reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of 61 cents versus a Thomson Reuters estimate of 64 cents per share. Revenue also missed, with a reported figure of $1.27 billion against a Thomson Reuters estimate of $1.29 billion.

"These results were within the range of guidance we provided last quarter," CEO Harold Messmer said during a quarterly earnings call. "Robert Half continued to benefit from a tightening job market and solid service demand domestically and in our non-U.S. markets during the fourth quarter."

Morningstar analyst David Silver cited a shift away from the company's permanent-placement business and towards less-profitable temp placements as the reason for the loss.


"Permanent placements are a high profit business for them and permanent placements have been trailing off for five or six quarters," Silver told CNBC. "They're busy, but the profit margins aren't quite as high."

Five-day performance of Robert Half International

Accountemps, the company's flagship accounting and finance temp brand, was a key miss. The brand failed to hit FactSet's target revenue of $436.1 million, reporting just $425.2 million in gross income. Their accounting and finance recruitment agency, Robert Half Finance and Accounting, also missed with revenue of $94.5 million against projections of a $96.5 billion top line.


With the day's moves, shares of the company are down 7 percent for the month of January.