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By John Revill
ZURICH, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Staffing company Adecco Group on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter quarterly net profit and said it was "mindful" of potential disruption to manufacturing supply chains caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Adecco, which competes with Randstad and ManpowerGroup, posted a net profit of 256 million euros ($278 million) versus a loss of 112 million a year earlier.
That topped the 207 million euros forecast by analysts in a company-provided poll. Revenue fell 3% to 5.96 billion euros, matching forecasts.
Zurich-based Adecco said hiring at the start of the year had been sluggish, with revenue falling 4% when adjusted for trading days and currency movements.
"The further slowdown in early 2020 reflects continued uncertainty in the global economy, as well as strikes in France and the impact of upcoming regulatory changes in the UK," Adecco said.
"Management is also mindful of potential disruption to manufacturing supply chains as a result of the outbreak of novel coronavirus in Asia and is monitoring the situation."
Adecco has been wrestling with a downturn in its general staffing segment, which provides workers for factories, warehouses and offices.
This segment has been hit by an industrial slowdown in countries such as Germany and France.
German industry, already reeling from the U.S.-China trade conflict, is likely to see exports weaken in coming months due to the coronavirus outbreak, a survey said this month.
The French economy meanwhile unexpectedly shrank in the final quarter of last year as manufacturing output slumped in the face of strikes over President Emmanuel Macron's unpopular pension reforms.
Adecco's rival Randstad reported a 2.8% fall in fourth-quarter organic growth, hit by a big downturn in Germany and the Netherlands. It said revenue fell by 3-4% in the first quarter.
ManpowerGroup reported a 2% fall in constant currency revenue for the fourth quarter, citing a "challenging environment" in Europe. It said it expects its first-quarter revenue to be flat or down 2% when adjusted for currency movements.
$1 = 0.92 euros Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Maju Samuel and Jason Neely