Hays plc Core dividends and capital return timetable: the Group's trading and cash generation have been considerably more resilient than our modelled scenarios at the time of their equity issuance. Accordingly, the Board intends to resume core dividends, with a single full-year payment based on 3x earnings cover, to be declared at their Prelims in August. Additionally, the Board has identified £150 million of surplus capital, which it intends to return to shareholders via special dividend, in two phases. Their expect to commence with a £100 million payment, declared at their FY21 Prelims.
Other financial highlights include:
H1 was significantly impacted by the pandemic, although importantly trading in all their major markets improved through the half. Net fees declined by 24%, with operating profit down 75% to £25.1 million. Group headcount decreased by 14% YoY, as we balanced cost controls with protecting their core infrastructure and people
Australia & New Zealand: fees down 23%, operating profit down 42%. Temp fees down 18%, with Perm down 34%. Public and Private sectors down 14% and 28% respectively
Germany: fees down 26%, operating profit down 76%. Tough market conditions, although clear improvement towards the end of the half. Relative fee resilience in Contracting, down 13%. Temp fees down 45%, significantly impacted by Temp redundancy costs and under-utilisation, although these have now returned to normal levels. Perm down 34%
UK & Ireland: fees down 27%, and they recorded a £1.0 million operating loss. Temp fees down 21%, improving through the half, while Perm declined by 35%. Public and Private sectors down 12% and 34% respectively
Rest of World: fees down 21%, operating profit of £0.1 million. Fees in EMEA ex-Germany and the Americas both fell by 20%, while Asia declined 28%. Fee momentum improved through the half, most notably in the USA, Switzerland, Spain and Poland
Net cash: Cash collection was strong, and we ended the half with net cash of £379.5 million (30 June 2020: £366.2 million; 31 December 2019: £13.2 million), excluding short-term deferrals of tax payments