Robert Walters is next week likely to give investors a sneak peak behind the curtain to see how a cooling jobs market might be affecting the recruitment industry.
he business is expected to issue a trading update before markets open on Thursday, telling shareholders how the first quarter of 2023 has been going.
Recent data from the Office for National Statistics showed there was a 51,000 drop in the number of vacancies in the UK to 1.12 million in the three months to February.
More workers are also being made redundant, the figures from two weeks ago showed.
The economic climate has been uncertain for several months, with inflation running high and the UK teetering on the edge of a recession.
“Robert Walters is a recruitment specialist, so its first-quarter update for 2023 will focus further attention on the issue of jobs,” Russ Mould and Danni Hewson, from AJ Bell, wrote.
“Again, investors must accept that employment data comes with an inbuilt lag, because it takes companies time to build up to, and then get on with, hiring, let alone go through the process of interviewing and choosing the right candidate and then getting them to sign on the dotted line.
“That caveat aside, this update should be informative, not least because Robert Walters reported record profits in 2022.
“It also announced a double-digit percentage increase in its dividend and even ran a share buyback for good measure.”
The update comes at a period of change for Robert Walters, as the chief executive who gave the business his name plans to step down in April.
After 38 years in the top job Mr Walters will hand over the reins to Toby Fowlston.
Previous updates from Robert Walters – the company, not the man – have shown that wages grew significantly amid a short supply of workers and a high number of vacancies.
For a recruiter this meant it could charge higher fees.
Investors will want to know whether this has continued or if those pressures have started to ease.
“Analysts and shareholders will then peep behind the headline growth number to look at the regional mix,” the experts from AJ Bell said.
“In the fourth quarter, Europe showed the fastest growth, followed by the UK and then Asia Pacific.
“Asia was held back by ongoing lockdowns in China, so it will be interesting to see if the first three months of 2023 are showing improved momentum here.”