Robert Half Boosts Shareholder Value, Hikes Dividend by 9.1%

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Robert Half International Inc.RHI continues to pursue its cash deployment strategy through dividend payments and share buybacks. Following the trend, the board of directors of this leading staffing firm recently announced a hike of 9.1% in its quarterly dividend. This implies that Robert Half will now pay a dividend of 24 cents to its shareholders, up from 22 cents per share paid earlier. This calls for an annualized dividend of 2.0%.

The new quarterly dividend will be paid on Mar 15 to shareholders of record as of Feb 24. Robert Half's last dividend hike of 10% was higher than the current one. The company has been paying cash dividends since 2004 and the rate has increased every year. This marks the 12th consecutive year of a dividend hike.

Not only dividends, the company also returns value to shareholders through share buybacks. During the fourth quarter 2016, Robert Half repurchased 1.1 million shares for $51 million. With that, the company had approximately 6.4 million shares available for repurchase under its board-approved stock repurchase plan.

Robert Half International Inc. Dividend Yield (TTM)

Robert Half International Inc. Dividend Yield (TTM) | Robert Half International Inc. Quote

Robert Half had cash and cash equivalents of $260.2 million at the end of the fourth quarter, compared with $292.5 million at the end of the third quarter. Capital expenditure was $20 million in the fourth quarter, same as the year-ago recorded figure.

Robert Half reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter 2016 earnings and revenues last month, possibly due to currency headwinds. Robert Half's total revenue declined 3.1% year over year in the fourth quarter, due to decline in U.S. staffing revenues, while earnings fell 14.1% as the company's clients are taking longer to make hiring decisions.

Also, a tightening U.S. job market continues to put pressure on the labor supply, particularly at higher skill levels. In fact, this marked the second consecutive quarter of earnings decline in the last 26 quarters.

Shares of this global staffing firm have increased 24.4% over the past one year in comparison to the Zacks categorized Staffing Firms industry, which showcased growth of 27.0%. Notably, the industry is part of the top 36% of the Zacks Classified industries (95 out of the 265).

Nevertheless, international staffing operations have performed well during the quarter. Protiviti also reported year-over-year revenue gains. Moreover, the company has been experiencing higher demand for services provided by skilled professionals. Further, employers are building flexible staffing options into their human resources plans, which is resulting in temporary staffing growth.

Robert Half carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Stocks to Consider

Better-ranked staffing stocks in the industry include Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. CCRN , Kforce, Inc. KFRC and ManpowerGroup MAN . While Cross Country sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Kforce and ManpowerGroup hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .

Cross Country has an average positive earnings surprise of 29.46% in the trailing four quarters with a long-term earnings growth rate of 17.50%. Kforce has an average positive earnings surprise of 3.94%, while Manpower has an average positive earnings surprise of 6.31% in the trailing four quarters.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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