- Recruitment group Hays said Friday it expected full-year operating profits would be 'marginally ahead' of market forecasts, as like-for-like net fees rose 15% in the fiscal fourth quarter.

For the three months to June 30, net fees increased 14% on a headline basis and 15% on a like-for-like basis against the prior year.

Net fee growth was held back somewhat by the strength of the pound against the Australian dollar, but the impact was partially offset by a stronger euro against sterling, the company said.

The upbeat performance was driven by its international businesses: Europe, excluding Germany, increased net fees by 23%, Asia increased net fees 25% and the Americas saw net fee growth of 35%, led by the US, which delivered a record 40% increase in net fees.

Germany -- Hay's largest market -- delivered a record quarter, with strong net fee growth of 16% despite tough comparatives.

Growth in the United Kingdom & Ireland was 5%, led by the company's public sector business, which saw growth of 12%. But this came amid easier comparatives as the prior period's results were weighed down by the negative impact of IR35 changes in the public sector.

The company warned, however, that in fiscal 2019 it expected tougher growth comparators from the prior year, especially in Australia, Europe, and Germany.

Exchange rate movements were expected to remain 'material sensitivity' to the group's reported profitability.

'If we re-translate FY18 profits at 12 July 2018 exchange rates, we currently estimate a negative circa £3m operating profit currency headwind for fiscal 2019,' the company said.

It said full-year operating profit was expected to be marginally ahead of current consensus market expectations, which it understood to be £240.9m. Story provided by