Adecco SA, the world’s largest provider of temporary workers, gained as much as 7 percent in Zurich trading after raising its dividend to 1.80 Swiss francs ($1.99) a share.
Adecco traded at 48.17 francs at 9:42 a.m. in Zurich, 6.2 percent higher, after reporting fourth-quarter net income of 133 million euros, beating analysts’ estimates of 119.3 million euros.
The larger dividend, a 64 percent increase on the previous year’s payout and more than the 1 franc forecast by Bloomberg, “should be seen in the long term because it’s really a change in strategy,” Chief Financial Officer Dominik de Daniel said in a telephone interview.
Additional share buybacks aren’t an option for the Glattbrugg, Switzerland-based company as it already holds a maximum 10 percent treasury shares allowed under Swiss law, according to the CFO. Adecco plans to pay dividend ratios of 40 to 50 percent of net income, compared with 25 to 30 percent previously, he said.
Adecco’s results are a “positive surprise with particularly strong cash flow,” said Michael Foeth, an analyst at Vontobel, who confirmed his “buy” rating on the stock.
The company is the second-best performing stock in Switzerland’s benchmark SMI Index this year, gaining 22 percent. Manpower Inc. added 20 percent in the same period and Randstad Holding NV increased 27 percent.
While revenues in Adecco’s biggest market, France, remained unchanged in 2011, “increased investment will boost margins” in the country in 2012, Chief Executive Officer Patrick De Maeseneire said on a conference call.