Hays plc (LON: HAS) said on Tuesday that hiring activity picked up sharply in Australia, Germany, Asia, and the United Kingdom last month. On the back of a recovery in March, the recruitment agency now forecasts better than expected full-year profit.
The Coronavirus pandemic that has so far infected more than 130 million people worldwide and caused over 2.9 million deaths resulted in a massive blow to staffing firms last year. A significant decline in fees pushed such companies into cutting their own workforce to minimise costs, as businesses from across the globe froze new hiring in 2020.
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Hays plc shares opened at 160.40 pence per share on Tuesday and are currently trading at 163 pence per share. The stock had started the year at a lower 143 pence per share. Learn more about why do prices rise and fall in the stock market.
Rival PageGroup also acknowledged recovery in March
Since the launch of vaccination programmes that helped economies reopen, however, several companies resumed recruiting in March. Hays rival, PageGroup, also expressed confidence last week that its financial performance will pick up this year.
In separate news from the United Kingdom, AstraZeneca expressed confidence that it had a positive meeting with the European Union over vaccine row.
Hays said on Tuesday it forecasts at least £85 million of operating profit this year versus the year-ago figure of £135 million. The British multinational currently operates in 33 countries. In the third quarter that concluded on 31st March, the London-based company said net fees posted a 10% decline. Consensus estimates for Q3 net fees, however, were for a broader decline.
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Chief Executive Alistair Cox comments on Tuesday
In a statement on Tuesday, CEO Alistair Cox said:
“We are confident we will continue to take further market share as clients and candidates look for our expert recruitment guidance, both during and after COVID.”
Hays also recorded a 12% annualised decline in its consultant headcount on Tuesday, but expressed confidence that in the fourth quarter, it will increase hiring by another 2% to 4%. In February, the human resources services said its net fees and turnover slid 78% in H1 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Hays plc performed fairly downbeat in the stock market last year with an annual decline of close to 20%. At the time of writing, the British multinational company has a market capitalisation of £2.74 billion.