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Robert Half International, Inc. (RHI - Analyst Report), a leading staffing firm, has approved an increase in quarterly cash dividend by a cent to 16 cents, thereby maintaining the trend of returning wealth to its shareholders from time to time, depending on market conditions. The new dividend of 16 cents will be paid on Mar 15 to all the shareholders as of Feb 25, 2013.

The company paid its last dividend of 15 cents in the fourth quarter of 2012 (reported on Jan 30), and also repurchased 1.2 million shares for a total of $34 million during the quarter. There are approximately 11.4 million shares remaining under the board approved stock repurchase plan.

Robert Half had cash and cash equivalents of $287.6 million at the end of the fourth quarter versus $289.4 million at the end of the third quarter. Capital expenditure was $14.0 million in the quarter as against $11.6 million at the end of the third quarter.

The increase in dividends reflects the company’s confidence in its fundamentals. The company is cash rich and has been regularly paying dividends and repurchasing shares, thereby bolstering shareholder value. The company's commitment toward enhancing shareholder return reflects its free cash flow generating capability, sound liquidity position and well defined future prospects.

Overall, Robert Half’s earnings have grown more than 20% year over year for 11 straight quarters, including the fourth quarter 2012 earnings, driven by growing demand for skilled workforce and consulting services.

We believe that the demand for the company’s services, in particular its staffing services, is highly dependent on the state of the economy and the staffing needs of the company’s clients. A gradual improvement in economic conditions and in job markets in the U.S. has led to a rise in the demand for the company’s specialized staffing and consulting services.

Robert Half currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Stocks that are performing well and are worth considering in the business services sector include Korn Ferry International (KFY - Snapshot Report), Manpower, Inc. (MAN - Analyst Report) and AMN Healthcare Services (AHS - Snapshot Report). While Korn Ferry and Manpower carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), AMN Healthcare holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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