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FTSE 250 movers: Jupiter spins out; Hays hit by warning

(Sharecast News) - FTSE 250: 19,315.68, -0.40%

Recruiter Hays warned on profits on Tuesday as it highlighted a hiring slowdown in December.

In an update for the three months to the end of December, the company said group net fees were down 10%, having fallen 15% in December alone.

As a result, and despite ongoing actions to reduce costs, the recruiter now expects first-half pre-exceptional operating profit of around £60m, which is below consensus expectations of £73m.

Chief executive Dirk Hahn said: "Overall market conditions became increasingly challenging through the quarter, including a clear slowdown in most markets in December, notably in our perm businesses as client and candidate decision-making slowed.

"Temp volumes remained broadly stable sequentially through the quarter, but declined year-on-year as we did not see our normal seasonal step-up in worker volumes."

Hahn said it was too early to say if December's weakness reflects a sustained market slowdown or some placement deferrals. However, the company expects near-term market conditions to remain challenging.

"Consequently, we accelerated our cost reduction and efficiency programmes, while focusing on increased operational performance and rigour. Looking ahead, our strategy is increasingly focused on enhancing our leading positions in the most attractive and skill-short markets globally, including Germany, non-perm and enterprise clients," he said.

At 0920 GMT, the shares were down 12% at 95.05p.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: "Hiring of permanent staff tends to ebb and flow with the economic cycle. The sluggish global growth backdrop combined with tighter monetary policy has dampened business appetite to pile on additional fixed staffing costs. And while temporary workers typically pick up the slack, Hays said it didn't see the 'normal seasonal step-up in worker volumes' dealing a double blow to the recruitment firm.

"Today's slide reverses much of the rebound in the stock seen since the lows in October. Over a 12-month period shares are down by over a fifth."

Jupiter Fund Management experienced higher-than-expected net outflows in 2023, it said in an update on Tuesday, totalling £2.2bn.

The outcome was attributed to delays in funding institutional mandates and weaker retail sentiment in the final months of the year.

It had initially forecasted "modest net outflows" for the year, a prediction it reaffirmed as recently as October.

Despite the challenging market conditions, Jupiter said it expected to report performance fees of more than £10m for the year ended 31 December, mainly due to the strong performance of a specific fund mandate throughout the year.

In light of the current economic environment, marked by lower asset valuations and reduced demand for risk assets among retail clients, Jupiter said it was assessing the potential impact on the valuation of its intangible assets as of 31 December.

The board said it was likely that the assessment would result in some impairment of goodwill on the company's balance sheet.

However, the impairment would not affect regulatory capital or Jupiter's ability to distribute capital to shareholders.

Jupiter said it had recognised goodwill from the acquisition of Knightsbridge Asset Management in 2007 of £341.2m, and Merian Global Investors in 2020 of £229.4m, which together formed part of its single cash-generating unit.

Economic conditions, coupled with higher capital costs and lower market valuations, had led to a short-term reduction in the overall business valuation.

At the same time, Jupiter announced that Ben Whitmore, the current manager of several funds including the £2.1bn Jupiter UK Special Situations Fund, was leaving the company to launch his own equities boutique, subject to regulatory approvals.

He would remain with Jupiter until at least the end of July.

The firm said it had recruited Alex Savvides, who would join from JO Hambro Capital Management, where he manages the £1.3bn UK Dynamic Fund.

Savvides would take over management of the Jupiter UK Special Situations Fund on his arrival, expected in the autumn.

Jupiter said it had also appointed Adrian Gosden and Chris Morrison, who would assume management responsibilities for the £1.6bn Jupiter Income Trust as part of the company's strategic moves to address these developments.

"Jupiter has always been a good home for outstanding talent and, since I joined Jupiter in January 2022, we have been working very hard to ensure that we have a pipeline of new hires which can both broaden our range of truly differentiated strategies and ensure orderly succession," said chief executive officer Matthew Beesley.

"I am thrilled that Alex is joining us. His performance, delivery of excellent client outcomes and asset growth track record over a long period of time mark him out as one of the truly exceptional UK equity investors."

FTSE 250 - Risers

Harbour Energy (HBR) 302.80p 2.71% W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 92.80p 2.43% Me Group International (MEGP) 130.00p 2.36% Auction Technology Group (ATG) 482.00p 2.12% Genus (GNS) 2,180.00p 1.96% Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 86.00p 1.90% Bellevue Healthcare Trust (Red) (BBH) 153.00p 1.86% Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 2,260.00p 1.80% Abrdn Private Equity Opportunities Trust (APEO) 464.50p 1.75% QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 315.40p 1.68%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 75.45p -14.75% Hays (HAS) 99.00p -8.08% Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 216.00p -5.01% SThree (STEM) 396.00p -4.12% Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 604.00p -4.05% Softcat (SCT) 1,298.00p -3.13% Pagegroup (PAGE) 455.20p -3.07% Greggs (GRG) 2,478.00p -2.98% PZ Cussons (PZC) 148.60p -2.88% FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 440.50p -2.76%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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