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COMPUTER TASK 'ON ROAD TO RECOVERY'

Computer Task Group in Buffalo continues to see demand for its computer staffing services bounce back after an industry slump, officials said Tuesday.

"We remain comfortable that our business has turned the corner and is on the road to recovery," said James R. Boldt, chairman and chief executive.

He spoke during a call with analysts Tuesday to discuss third-quarter financial performance.

Sales were $57.9 million in the quarter ended Oct. 1, down 2.9 percent from $59.6 million in 2003, when the quarter ended Sept. 26.

Profits jumped 77.6 percent from the year-ago quarter, which included losses from a discontinued operation. Profits from continuing operations fell to $618,000, from $788,000.

On a per-share basis, profits were 4 cents, up from 2 cents a year ago.

Headquartered on Delaware Avenue, CTG sells computer staffing and project support services to corporate clients like IBM. It employs 2,500 people in North America and Europe, 85 percent of them "billable" contract workers, chief financial officer Gregory M. Dearlove said.

For the fourth quarter, Boldt forecast sales of $57.5 to $59.5 million and profits in the range of 2 to 4 cents per share.

CTG stock gained 27 cents Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, to $2.94.

"After years of relatively weak demand, (computer) staffing demand has returned to a more normal level," Boldt said. CTG is beefing up recruiting staff to accommodate the recovery in staffing, which began four years ago, he said.

Now the company is looking for recovery in its computer project support business as corporations increase capital spending, Boldt said. CTG's health care business group is showing growth, while sales to the financial services industry are taking a hit from the expiration of some clients' projects, he said.

For the first nine months of this year, CTG's sales were $178.4 million, down 3 percent from $184 million the previous year. Losses, including those connected with discontinued operations, were $2.3 million, compared to a profit of $928,000 the year before. Losses per share were 14 cents, compared to a profit of 6 cents.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com