Robert Walters plc (LON: RWA) said on Wednesday that its annual profit is expected to top market estimates as hiring activity showed signs of recovery in recent weeks. The company, however, warned that it was still uncertain how the COVID-19 will unfold in the upcoming months, with several countries imposing fresh restrictions to minimise the fast spread of the novel virus.
The Coronavirus pandemic has so far infected more than 130 million people worldwide and caused over 2.9 million deaths. The announcement comes only a day after peer Hays plc also acknowledged a surge in hiring activity in March.
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Robert Walters shares jumped roughly 7% in premarket trading on Wednesday and gained another 4% on market open. Including the price action, the stock is now exchanging hands at 675 pence per share. In comparison, the British firm had started the year 2021 at a much lower 469 pence per share.
Robert Walters increased its headcount by 74 in Q1
Robert Walters reported £77.3 million of net fee income for the quarter that concluded on 31st March that translates to a 12% annualised decline. Net fee income tanked 3% in the Asia Pacific, 15% in Europe, and 12% in the UK. Mainland China and New Zealand, on the other hand, posted an increase of 58% and 16%, respectively, in net fee income.
In the prior quarter (Q4), Robert Walters had recorded a 24% decline in net fees.
The specialist professional recruitment group increased its headcount by 74 in the first quarter. It now has more than three thousand employees and operates in over thirty countries. Headquartered in London, Robert Walters generated most of its fees from outside the United Kingdom.
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Chief Executive Robert Walters’ comments on Wednesday
CEO Robert Walters commented on the financial update on Wednesday and said:
“I am pleased to report that the positive momentum in the Group’s performance since quarter two 2020 has continued through the first quarter of 2021, with candidate and client confidence sequentially improving across most of the Group’s global footprint.”
In separate news from Europe, Ryanair again lost its fight in court against state aid for SAS and Finnair.
Robert Walters performed fairly upbeat in the stock market last year with an annual decline of a little under 20%. At the time of writing, the London-listed company has a market capitalisation of £515 million and a price to earnings ratio of 89.61.