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Hays 6-month Pretax Profit Down 22% - Quick Facts

Hays plc (HAS.L) on Thursday reported profit before tax of 95.6 million pounds for the six months ended 31 December 2019, down 22 percent from 122.6 million pounds in the prior-year period. Basic earnings per share were 4.60 pence, compared to 5.86 pence last year.

Operating profit for the period declined 19 percent to 100.1 million pounds from 124.1 million pounds in the prior-year period.

The decline in operating profit was driven by a 15 million pounds reduction in reported Group net fees year-over-year, including a sharp slowdown in the company's largest country, Germany, and three specific external events in December (general strikes in France, Australian bushfires and the UK Election.

The operating profit also reflects 9 million pounds of net reported cost increases, driven by strategic investment in the company's IT specialism globally, property and IT capability.

However, turnover for the six months rose 2 percent to 3.10 billion pounds from 3.04 billion pounds a year ago. Net fees declined 3 percent to 553.1 million pounds from 568.0 million pounds in the year-ago period. On a like-for-like basis, net fees declined 2 percent.

The company's board maintained the interim core dividend at 1.11 pence per share. The interim dividend payment date will be 9 April 2020 and the ex-dividend date is 5 March 2020, with record date of 6 March 2020.

Looking ahead, Alistair Cox, Chief Executive of Hays, said, "We expect near-term macro conditions to remain difficult and are mindful of continuing uncertainties, including the coronavirus. While our focus will be on cost management, we also see growth opportunities, for example in the IT sector globally and in the USA, and we will continue to invest in them."

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