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ZURICH, March 9 (Reuters) - Swiss staffing group Adecco said on Wednesday growth in its biggest market, France, continued to improve in January and February, helping it post results broadly in line with expectations in the fourth quarter.
Organic revenue growth improved to 5 percent in the final quarter of 2015, but slowed to 4 percent again in January and February, in line with the full year 2015, partly due to an unfavourable base effect, Adecco said in a statement.
“In January and February ... growth continued to improve slightly in France, remained stable in North America, and moderated slightly in Italy, Iberia and Benelux,” the group said.
In January, wariness about the sluggish economic backdrop, particularly in Europe, forced the world’s biggest staffing group, which is often seen as a bellwether for global economic activity, to lower its profitability expectations.
Adecco confirmed its financial targets of organic revenue growth at least in line with its main peers, and an earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) margin of 4.5-5.0 percent on average for 2016-2020, excluding one-offs.
Net profit was 184 million euros ($201.94 million) in the fourth quarter, in line with the year-ago period but slightly below a 194 million forecast in a Reuters poll.
The company said it would propose a dividend of 2.40 Swiss francs ($2.41) per share for 2015, up 14 percent from the previous year.
The company also said it had reached an agreement to make a recommended cash offer for the entire ordinary share capital of UK recruitment firm Penna Consulting PLC of 365 pence per share, taking the total consideration to approximately 105 million pounds ($148.90 million), in line with its strategy to do bolt-on buys. ($1 = 0.7052 pounds) ($1 = 0.9112 euros) ($1 = 0.9979 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Joshua Franklin and Biju Dwarakanath)