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Heidrick & Struggles' stock slumps on 4Q

CHICAGO (AP) -- Shares in Heidrick & Struggles slumped 18 percent Tuesday after the executive search firm posted quarterly loss and weaker revenue.

The Chicago-based company's stock dropped $2.92 to $13.59 in late trading.

Heidrick & Struggles reported a net loss of $402,000, or 2 cents a share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. That compares with a much bigger loss of $4.1 million, or 23 cents a share, the year before when the company took a big restructuring charge.

Excluding costs tied to its acquisition of Senn-Delaney, a consulting firm, Heidrick & Struggles said its operating income was $1.3 million in the latest quarter. That equals 7 cents a share based on 18 million shares outstanding. Analysts had expected the company to turn an adjusted profit of 17 cents a share in the quarter, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell to $108.7 million, a 19 percent decline from the same quarter the year before. Analysts had expected $109.7 million.

Net revenue fell especially hard in Europe, sinking 29 percent. The firm also received less revenue for each executive search. The fourth-quarter average revenue for each search was $117,600 versus $128,300 the year before.

"Challenging economic conditions and lower confirmations resulted in 2012 financial results that fell short of our expectations, particularly with respect to net revenue," said CEO L. Kevin Kelly in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

It forecast first-quarter revenue of $100 million to $110 million. Analysts were expecting $111.3 million.

The company's shares have traded as high as $22.77 and as low as $11.12 over the past year.