SThree to pay dividend after profit jump

Recruiter SThree reported a 21 per cent rise in first-half profit and said it would pay a special dividend after seeing a recovery across its markets.

SThree, which finds jobs for IT professionals in the finance, energy and healthcare sectors in Britain, Europe and Asia, posted a gross profit of £90m for the six months to May, up from £74.3m in the same period a year ago.

The group said it would pay a special dividend of 11 pence per share on 2 December representing a cash outflow of around £13.5m.

The company, which has steadily expanded overseas and now generates around two thirds of its business outside the UK, said permanent placements were up 21 per cent, while contractors were up 11 percent year-on-year.

"The group has entered the second half in good shape, notwithstanding some evidence of a softening of demand in recent weeks, and our expectations for the full year remain unchanged," chief executive Russell Clements said.

SThree's update follows a strong second-quarter for rival recruiter Michael Page this month, which posted a 32 per cent jump in gross profit, driven largely by a rise in permanent placements.