With lockdown hiring freezes, furlough schemes and almost all travel scuppered, investors were braced for recruitment group Hays to have a difficult quarter.
The coronavirus pandemic has created ‘conditions far harsher than any I have known’, Hays chief executive Alistair Cox said.
Net fee income – the industry’s version of gross profit – fell by more than a third between April and June, and by 42 per cent in the UK and Ireland.
Recruitment slump: Net fee income at Hays – the industry’s version of gross profit – fell by more than a third between April and June, and by 42 per cent in the UK and Ireland
Some of the worst-hit industries were finance and construction, unsurprisingly, though there was an uptick in people wanting staff with so-called ‘life sciences’ skills.
And even though recruitment has started to resume, things are still a long way off returning to normal.
It now thinks full-year profit will come in at £130million to £135million – down from £249million the year before.
Perhaps because difficulties in the jobs market have already been baked into Hays’ share price, its stock ended the day down 1.3 per cent, or 1.6p, to 125p.
Credit score provider Experian also lost ground, falling 1per cent, or 29p, to 2816p after reporting a 5per cent drop in quarterly revenue.
Stock Watch – Morses Club
Sub-prime lender Morses Club has been able to collect more cash from customers in recent weeks, after a sharp drop during lockdown.
Some customers who requested payment holidays are now making repayments again. It believes collection rates will approach pre-Covid 19 levels by the end of August.
The AIM-listed group, whose shares jumped 13.2 per cent, or 6.9p, to 59.1p, also said it had seen ‘encouraging uptake’ via a digital lending process in the first few days of it being live.
London’s two main stock market indexes tipped into the red.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.67per cent, or 41.96 points, to 6250.69, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.57 per cent, or 99.26 points, to 17321.29.
Over on the Footsie, insurance juggernaut Aviva (down 0.4 per cent, or 1.3p, to 292.7p) revealed it has kept a 24 per cent stake in Friends Provident International.
The business sold control in the Asia and Middle East-focused firm to International Financial Group for £259million.
Aviva had previously said it would sell all of its holding for £340million. Energy provider SSE said it reckons it will take a £250million hit this year from the effects of coronavirus, which wiped out a considerable amount of demand for electricity during lockdown.
It pledged to stick with plans to invest £7.5billion in renewables projects this year.
And, in a rare boon for investors in the current climate, it also promised to stick to its dividend.
It said the payout ‘provides income for people’s pensions and savings and is particularly vital given the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic’.
The company, whose shares rose 2.5 per cent or 33.5p, to 1397p, switched its focus to renewable power generation earlier this year after it sold its household energy arm to Ovo at the start of the year.
And Anglo American investors were downbeat despite the mining group promising to double-down and hit its 2020 production target, even though lockdowns disrupted day-to-day work between April and June.
The FTSE 100 group dug up less platinum, palladium, iron ore, coal, manganese and fewer diamonds than it had intended in the second quarter.
Copper and nickel rose but overall production fell by 18 per cent. Shares closed down 1.2 per cent, or 22.8p, to 1930.6p.
Babcock bosses gave the submarine builder a boost by buying £404,000 worth of shares.
It rose 1.9 per cent, or 5.6p, to 296.2p after incoming chief executive David Lockwood, who was previously the head of defence group Cobham, shelled out £318,000.
Chairman Ruth Cairnie and her husband spent £57,000, while non-executive director Carl-Peter Forster spent £29,000.
And Biffa made gains after saying it was seeing a ‘steady recovery’ in demand for its services – which include rubbish collection and recycling – and that revenues last month were at 83 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
But it was bruised later in the day after more than 30 per cent of votes were cast against chairman Ken Lever’s re-election to the board.
The vote wasn’t binding, so Lever stays in his role. Shares rose 5.2 per cent, or 10.2p, to 205p.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.