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Why Shares of Robert Half Fell on Wednesday

Lou Whiteman, The Motley Fool

What happened

Shares of Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI) traded down more than 9% on Wednesday morning after the staffing firm released first-quarter results that came in short of expectations and said that the second quarter is likely to come in on the low end of estimates.

So what

After markets closed Tuesday, Robert Half reported first-quarter earnings of $0.93 per share on revenue of $1.47 billion, falling short of consensus expectations for $0.95 and $1.5 billion, respectively.

A finger follows a stock chart that is moving downward.

Image source: Getty Images.

Company president and CFO Keith Waddell on a call with investors said "macro slowing" in Europe -- particularly in Germany, Belgium, and France -- was stronger than expected. In the U.S., "we saw clients get more selective, either because they were replacing attrition and were looking for people to essentially hire on a full-time basis ultimately," Waddell said.

Robert Half said it expects to earn between $0.95 and $1.01 per share in the second quarter, on revenue between $1.485 billion and $1.55 billion. Analysts were looking for the high end of that range, on average expecting $1.01 per share on revenue of $1.55 billion.

Now what

Robert Half can be a useful barometer to gauge the health of the overall global economy, and this report seems consistent with the prevailing view that although the U.S. and some other key economies might be slowing somewhat, their overall health is fine.

It's worth noting that although the quarter missed expectations, Robert Half did grow EPS by 19% year over year. And for the second quarter, the company is expecting 5% to 6% revenue growth at the midpoint of guidance and double-digit EPS growth.

The quarter might not have been what investors were hoping for, but Robert Half overall seems to be doing just fine.

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Lou Whiteman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Robert Half International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.