Robert Walters Results
ROBERT WALTERS PLC
Preliminary Results for the year ended 31 December 2008
ROBERT WALTERS DELIVERS RESULTS IN LINE WITH EXPECTATIONS
Net fee income (gross profit) up 7% to 138.6m (2007: 128.9m).
Profit before taxation down 27% to 18.2m (2007: 24.9m).
Basic earnings per share down 26% to 17.2p (2007: 23.2p).
Final dividend maintained at 3.35p per share, giving a total dividend for the year of 4.75p per share (2007: 4.70p).
Balance sheet remains strong, with 22.2m of net cash as at 31 December 2008 (31 December 2007: 15.6m).
10.1m of the Company's own shares purchased through share buy-back programme.
67% of the Group's net fee income now generated from outside of the UK (2007: 62%).
Banking recruitment activity severely impacted by the global financial crisis. Headcount in permanent banking recruitment divisions across the Group reduced by 22% during the year.
Total headcount reduced 7% from 1,687 at the half year to 1,571 at the year end (2007: 1,474).
Continued investment in contract business in Europe and Asia Pacific. Contract represents 35% (2007: 32%) of the Group's recruitment net fee income and provides some hedge against the more cyclical permanent market.
Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented:
"During the year, we successfully completed a programme of investment in our contract businesses particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific, whilst accelerating headcount reductions in the business areas most affected by the economic downturn.
"The prevailing economic conditions show little sign of improving and in some markets are becoming noticeably more difficult, with net fee income down 21% in the first two months of this year. The Group will continue to react quickly to market conditions by adjusting our cost base as necessary and maintaining tight controls over cash management.
"Our strategy is clear: to manage the current downturn as effectively as possible, whilst maintaining the breadth of disciplines and geographic coverage, to ensure we are able to take advantage of the inevitable market recovery. The best placed recruitment businesses will be the ones whose brands and balance sheets are strong. The Group entered this downturn as a diverse and global operation with a strong cash position and a highly experienced management team. We believe this leaves us well equipped to meet the challenges ahead."