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Half year results for the period ending 31 October 2019 - Strong organic growth with good progress against medium-term targets

11 December 2019
bank with frontyard
DWF Group plc, the global legal business providing Complex, Managed and Connected Services, today issues its half year results for the period to 31 October 2019.

GROUP FINANCIAL SUMMARY

£m

HY2020

HY2019

Change

Net revenue

146.8

133.4

+10%

Gross profit

73.7

72.3

+2%

Gross profit margin (%)

50.2%

54.2%

-4.0ppts

Underlying gross profit

73.7

68.4 +8%

Underlying gross profit margin (%)

50.2%

51.3% -1.1ppts

Adjusted earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation ('Adjusted EBITDA')

20.1

16.9 +19%

Underlying adjusted EBITDA

13.5 12.9

+4%

Adjusted profit before tax ('Adjusted PBT')

9.9

13.4 -26%
Underlying adjusted PBT

9.7

9.4 3%
Reported PBT

4.7

5.3

 

Adjusted diluted earnings per share ('Adjusted diluted EPS') (pence)

2.6p

3.6p

 

Reported diluted EPS (pence)  1.2p 1.9p  
 Net debt 49.5  59.0  

 

Andrew Leaitherland, Group Chief Executive Officer commented:

“We are pleased with our first set of interim results as a plc.  Our business continues to evolve in line with our strategy, with International and Connected Services being our key areas of investment.  This is evident in the growth achieved in the first half of the year in these two divisions, with further investments made in key capabilities and locations where our clients need us to be, such as Poland and Dusseldorf, Germany.  This will help to drive the business forward in the second half of this year and beyond.  Growth in International and Connected Services was underpinned by a solid performance in the UK business, with Insurance Services delivering double digit organic growth and Commercial Services showing resilience in a tough market.  We have also made progress with our Managed Services offering by securing a five-year contract with BT, demonstrating the success of this strand of our strategy.  Finally, we are excited to announce that we reached an agreement to acquire a leading Spanish law firm, Rousaud Costas Duran ("RCD"), with whom we previously had an exclusive Association which significantly expands our International capabilities"

 

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • 10% increase in Group revenue from £133.4m to £146.8m 
    • 28% growth in the International division
    • 18% growth in the Connected Services division
    • The Commercial Services division flat in H1
    • 10% growth in the Insurance Services division
  • Organic revenue growth  of 6.7%
  • Underlying Adjusted EBITDA2 of £13.5m, increased by 4% (FY 2019 H1: £12.9m) with significant investment in H1
  • Reported PBT of £4.7m (FY 2019 H1: £5.3m)
    • Reduction due to change in partner compensation model with the prior period on a reported basis reflecting the lower LLP-based direct cost
    • Underlying adjusted PBT3 of £9.7m (FY 2019 H1: £9.4m), an increase of 3%
  • 17-day reduction, equivalent to 14% improvement, in debtor days5 (FY 2019: 122 days)
  • 15-day increase in WIP days5 in line with normal working capital cycle, resulting in reduction in gross lock-up days5 to 201 (FY 2019: 203 days)
  • Closing net debt5 of £49.5m (FY 2019 H1: £59.0m)
  • Net debt/Adjusted EBITDA multiple of 2.5 (FY 2019 H1: multiple of 3.5)
  • Declared first interim dividend of 1.25p payable in December with a second interim dividend anticipated in February 2020 (will revert to dividends being twice annually in FY21)
     

OPERATIONAL & STRATEGIC PERFORMANCE

  • Revenue per partner increased by 4% to £438k (half year basis) despite significant H1 investment in new partners
  • Net increase of 20 new partners in the period which will support ongoing underlying organic growth particularly in the International division
  • Underlying gross margin down 1.1 percentage points ('ppts') from 51.3% to 50.2% reflecting the investment made in the first half
  • Cost to income ratio6 improved by 0.7ppts to 43.0%
  • Acquired in Poland and expanded German operations with Dusseldorf office
  • Landmark five-year Managed Services contract with BT live from 1 November
OUTLOOK AND CURRENT TRADING
  • Expansion of office in Newcastle Australia with hire of 8 lawyers
  • Strong pipeline of work across all divisions with significant bid activity, including Managed Services opportunities
  • Investment to support growth in second half has now been made with cost base set to be maintained for the remainder of the year
  • The first half results, investments made, and trading through November reinforce management's confidence in delivering expectations for the full year 
  • Reached a definitive agreement to acquire Rousaud Costas Duran ('RCD') on 10 December 2019 with completion expected by 31 December 2019. The acquisition of RCD is expected to be earnings enhancing in its first full financial year post completion

[1]Organic revenue growth eliminates the impact of acquisitions
[2] Underlying Adjusted EBITDA is defined in note 2
[3]Underlying Adjusted PBT is defined in note 2
[4]Adjusted diluted EPS is defined in note 8
[5]Debtor days, WIP days, Gross lock-up days and net debt are defined in note 22
[6[ Cost to income ratio is defined in note 2

Download the full results report >

A presentation for analysts and investors of the full year results will be webcast on 11 December 2019 at 9:30am (GMT) and can be accessed at: https://webcasts.eqs.com/dwf20191211 

For further information:

DWF Group plc
James Igoe, 
Head of Communications and IR +44(0)20 7280 8929

Finsbury 
Ed Simpkins
Richard Crowley +44(0)20 7251 3801

Forward looking statements

This announcement contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to the Company's current targets, expectations and projections about future performance, anticipated events or trends and other matters that are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements, which sometimes use words such as "aim", "anticipate", "believe", "intend", "plan" "estimate", "expect" and words of similar meaning, include all matters that are not historical facts and reflect the directors' beliefs and expectations and involve a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results and performance to differ materially from any expected future results or performance expressed or implied by the forward-looking statement.

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