Accounting Essay

1404 words - 6 pages

Financial Analysis of HAYS plc
Hay plc is a recruitment services company. According to its 2004 annual report ‘Hays provides specialist recruitment services for clients and candidates requiring permanent and temporary, professional and technical staff’ (Hays, 2004).

For the year ended 30 June, 2004, Hays had £530.2m of assets on its balance sheet, made up of £137.9m of fixed assets and £392.3m of current assets. Appendix 1 gives a summary of Hays consolidated balance sheet. Hays has £323.5m of current liabilities and hence £68.8m of net current assets. Total assets less current liabilities of £206.7m are being financed through long-term creditors, provisions and shareholders funds.
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4m. This was achieved by repaying £306m of long term borrowings and £39.9m of short term borrowings. The company also disposed some of its businesses and that further reduced its debt by £44.9m.
The reduction in debt was financed mainly by sale of some of its businesses in the year. The net cash due to disposal of business was £334.7m (352.9-18.2). The debt repayment was also helped by £18m increase in cash before acquisitions and disposals. Hays also issued £0.6m of ordinary shares and disposed off another £1.4m of its shares.
Hays has very less debts, £2.0m in short and long term bank borrowings. Most of the financing, £199.9m were being financed by shareholder funds and internal accruals in terms of provisions.
Equity financing is much more costlier than debt financing, especially when company debt levels are no where near bankruptcy. Hays could use more debt at a lower cost and return the costlier capital to shareholders. The company had higher debts in 2003. But it sold some businesses in 2004 and used the cash to retire almost all of debt.
Returning capital to shareholder by taking more debt would decrease shareholders funds and increase interest costs. Higher interest costs would reduce tax costs, reducing net interest costs. But the consequent decrease in shareholders funds mean that the returns on capital will increase significantly.
Earnings per share
Only once in the last five years did basic earnings per share increase. Over the five year period, basic earnings per share have dropped by 50 %. From 2000 to 2002, basic earnings per share decreased gradually from 7.7p to 4.82p. Then it drops significantly to -28.39p. This is mainly due to a very high exceptional charge of £490m. Exceptional charge relates to goodwill written off from acquired businesses of £442.8m and restructuring charges of £47.2m.
This is a better reflection of earnings as goodwill amortisation is a non-cash charge. Earnings per share before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items also declines over the five year period but the fluctuations in it are much less than in basic earnings per share. While basic earnings per share was hugely negative in one year, earnings before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items were positive in all five years.
Five year dividend policy
In the five year period from 2000 to 2004, dividend increases in the first three years and decreases only in the last year. In the first three years from 2001 to 2003, dividend increase each year by 15%. Only in the last year, dividend decreased by 44 %.
The constant 15 % rise in the first three years of five year period is not consistent with the pattern observed in basic earnings per share, which have declined in all three years. In 2003, basic earnings per share was negative but dividend still increased to 5.38 p.
The contrast growth pattern observed above is also seen when we use earnings before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items. But dividend is still less than earnings...

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