Staff consulting company Robert Half International (RHI -1.57%) reported earnings Thursday night, and the market liked what it saw. Shares initially popped more than 13% on Friday, but settled back to a 3.4% gain as of noon EST.
Earnings per share of $0.84 beat the average estimate of $0.68 by 23.5%, according to Yahoo Finance. Revenue of $1.304 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2020 also beat estimates. The results "were very strong and exceeded the top end of our guidance range," said M. Keith Waddell, president and CEO of Robert Half. The company's global consulting subsidiary, Protiviti, recorded its 13th straight quarter with year-over-year revenue gains.
Revenue was down 15% compared to the prior-year period, but Waddell said on the earnings call that staffing operations were seeing across-the-board strong sequential growth quarter to quarter. Though the company is still guiding for lower year-over-year revenue for the first quarter, Waddell said he was still optimistic on the recovery from pandemic impacts. He added, "Our aggressive go-to-market strategy during the pandemic with clients in the public sector and financial institutions of all sizes has yielded meaningful wins and new relationships."
Though the company reduced its headcount during the downturn, it said it has retained tenured staff and expects productivity from the more experienced group to have more room to improve. While shares have underperformed the S&P 500 index over the past several years, the company has maintained its dividend, and the yield slightly greater than 2% gives income investors what they are looking for.