SThree, the increasingly internationally focussed recruiter, enjoyed a strong finish to its financial year as it moved its back office from London to Glasgow to trim costs.
The FTSE Smallcap group increased revenue 16% to £1.1bn in the 12 months to November, with more than 80% of business generated outside the UK by the year-end, which saw some extra boost from the weaker pound. Excluding this, revenue was up 9% at constant currency rates.
Gross profit was lifted 11% to £287.7m or 4% CCR, with profit from contract workers up 10% and permanent staff down 8% at CCR. A strong finish to the year saw gross profit up 8% in the fourth quarter.
Adjusted group operating profit of £44.9m was up 9% but down 3% if excluding currencies.
The conversion ratio was down 40 basis points to 15.6%, which led to adjusted profit before tax shrinking 3% on a constant currency basis to £44.5m, though at the reported level it was up 9%.
Basic adjusted earnings per share of 25.7p were up 11% thanks to currency effects but down 1% otherwise, with diluted of 24.9p up 20%, as expected.
"We have delivered an encouraging overall result for the year, with a strong finish in the final quarter," said chief executive Gary Elden.
"Pleasing performances in the USA and Continental Europe, particularly from our market-leading businesses in the Netherlands and Germany, were key to this result.
"With 81% of our business now generated outside the UK and 71% of our GP generated by our more resilient Contract business, our business profile has changed significantly over recent years. After two years of turbulent political, market and economic conditions, we enter 2018 in good shape, with a clear vision to be the number one STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] talent provider in the best STEM markets."
Shares in SThree fell 1% on Monday, to 368.44p by midday.
The key highlight for analysts at Liberum was that the momentum in the fourth quarter has continued into the first weeks of the 2018 financial year.
"Although too early to drive material forecasts, this combined with historic investment should leave the company well-placed in FY18," Liberum said, seeing SThree as "well-positioned longer term, given its exposure to STEM markets and the more resilient contract business"