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In a year-end trading statement released today, recruitment firm Hydrogen Group (HYDG: AIM) confirmed that trading during November and December 2013 was in line with projections. The Group is forecast to report an increase in net fee income for the year of around +2% and a pre-tax profit for the year in the region of £2.3 million.
During 2013, the Group saw strong growth in the Technical & Scientific sector, which now represents 45% of the Group’s net fee income. However, conditions in the Professional Support Services recruitment markets remained challenging.
In 2013 the Group continued with its strategy of investing for growth in the medium term. During the first half of the year, offices were opened in Houston, USA and Stavanger, Norway to take advantage of strength in the global oil and gas markets, and a number of experienced hires were made across the business.
The Group has continued to add staff during the second half of the year and, as a result, year-end headcount was 386, a +10% increase since the half year. A consequence of this investment is that administration costs for 2013 are expected to increase by approximately +5% from 2012.
Net debt at the end of the 2013 is forecast to be approximately £4 million (2012: £2.8 million), primarily as a result of £1.8 million invested in the fit-out of the Group's new London headquarters to accommodate growing headcount during the second half of the year.
Looking forward, the Board believes that the investments made in the period provide a strong basis for the Group to take advantage of future growth opportunities in the recruitment markets.
In trading today, the company’s share price rose by +1.4% to £1.11, an increase of +33.6% compared with a year ago. Based on its current share price, the company has a market value of £26.32 million.