Robert Half International Inc.(RHI - Analyst Report) continues to pursue its cash deployment strategy through dividend payments and share buybacks. Following the trend, the board of directors of this leading staffing firm recently announced a hike of 12.5% in its quarterly dividend.
This implies that Robert Half will now pay a dividend of 18 cents to its shareholders, up from 16 cents per share paid earlier. This calls for an annualized dividend of 1.8%. The new quarterly dividend will be paid on March 14 to shareholders of record as of Feb 25, 2014. Robert Half last paid its stockholders a cash dividend of 16 cents per share on Dec 16, amounting to a total of $24 million.
Not only dividends, the company also returns value to its shareholders through share buybacks. During the fourth quarter 2013 (reported on Jan 30), the company repurchased 0.5 million shares for a total of $20 million. There are approximately 8.1 million shares remaining under the board’s currently approved stock repurchase plan.
Robert Half had cash and cash equivalents of $275.8 million at the end of the fourth quarter 2013 versus $279.7 million at the end of the sequential quarter. Capital expenditure was $21 million in the fourth quarter as against $11.8 million in the third quarter.
During its fourth quarter 2013, the company reported earnings of 49 cents, ahead of the prior-year quarter adjusted earnings of 42 cents per share by 16.7%. Earnings also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny.
Despite sluggish performance in the international markets, Robert Half witnessed strong earnings growth driven by solid demand for skilled professionals in the U.S. The company’s permanent placement and technology staffing divisions and Protiviti operations delivered strong staffing revenue in the quarter.
Robert Half's total revenue grew 4.8% year over year to $1.08 billion in the fourth quarter and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.075 billion by 0.8%. On a constant currency basis, revenues increased 3% year over year, driven by 6% growth in the U.S, which was offset by a 3% decline in international staffing revenues in the fourth quarter.
Robert Half carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks worth considering in the business services sector include Cross Country, Inc. (CCRN - Snapshot Report), On Assignment Inc (ASGN - Snapshot Report) and Manpower Inc (MAN - Analyst Report). While Cross Country and On Assignment hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Manpower carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).