The two big boys in the recruitment sector, Hays and Michael Page, have spent much of the year trading woeful results as surging unemployment dented their profits. But the jump in the unemployment numbers has done nothing to dent the performance of those groups that make the whole process of getting rid of people that much easier.
Aim-listed OneClickHR, a group that licences its HR software, said on Thursday that it was in clover: the stock was up 18 per cent as interim revenues rose 20 per cent. Profit before tax of £356,000 was up from just £23,000 this time last year.
"Trading has remained good during the summer and we continue to view the prospects of the group with confidence," said the chief executive, Frank Beechinor.
Mr Beechinor argues that sales of his product have not necessarily been helped by the surging unemployment rate, but rather the group has "reached an inflexion point" – the years of investment are now paying off.
The key, says Mr Beechinor, is to sign in big clients, which helps to build momentum. Over the last few months the private equity group 3i, the music outfit EMI and pest controllers Rentokil have all become customers. It does seem that OneClickHR, despite its rather silly moniker, has had a good recession. As the green shoots emerge, Mr Beechinor and his investors will be hoping it has an equally good recovery.
Horizonte to dig for AngloGold in Latin America
Those who watch the commodities markets have reached a peak of feverishness in the last few weeks as the price of gold has edged closer and closer to the much-heralded $1,000- an-ounce mark.
After more than a year of struggling, the news will no doubt come as great relief to the Aim-listed gold miners, many of which have run out of cash in the search for gold and face little prospect of being granted more by investors. However it was not just the unstoppable surge in the gold price that contributed to the near 10 per cent jump in Aim-listed Horizonte Minerals' share price on Friday. The group, which has interests in Brazil and Peru, said that it has penned a deal with the South African group AngloGold Ashanti for exploration activities around its Latin American base.
The agreement could be worth as much as $5.3m (£3.2m), depending on the success of the digging, with $900,000 guaranteed in the first year of the deal. The agreement also provides for Horizonte to take a 49 per cent share in any defined projects that result from the exploration.
"The need to develop new resources and the advantages of strategic exploration alliances has been recognised by both Horizonte and AngloGold, and we hope to repeat AngloGold's success in new greenfield discoveries, and work towards Horizonte becoming its preferred partner in Brazil," said David Hill, the chairman of Horizonte.
$18m order boosts SRT after 93 per cent fall in share price
Some good news last week from the oft-mentioned Software Radio Technologies (SRT), which said on Thursday that it has had an $18m order from an Asia-based customer for its marine tracking devices.
The order sent the group's stock up by more than 12 per cent on Thursday, adding to what has been a pretty good few months for the stock, which has grown 152 per cent in the last quarter alone.
The improvement will no doubt come as a relief for the chief executive, Simon Tucker, a self-styled entrepreneur who has been consistent in his commentary on the financial downturn.
He has seen the annual value of SRT shares fall by more than 93 per cent earlier this year.
His hope will be that more deals like last week's will be signed up soon and give further impetus to the stock.
Alliance Pharma's winning ways
Alliance Pharma, the Aim-listed specialist niche treatment group, is expected to announce impressive interim numbers on Wednesday, signalling that it is one of few winners among the small-cap pharmaceutical outfits over the last 12 months.
The brokers at Numis have upgraded their forecasts throughout the year, with the latest estimates predicting sales of £27m and pre-tax profits of £5.9m.
Perhaps dauntingly for a group of Alliance's size (the market capitalisation is a shade under £34m), there is a commitment to pay a dividend by "early 2010". Watch this space.Reuse content