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Final Results

Keystone Law (AIM: KEYS), the fast growing, UK Top 100, challenger law firm, today announces its final results for the year ended 31 January 2020 (‘FY2020’).

Financial Highlights

Strong Revenue increase of 16.3% to £49.6 million (FY2019: £42.7 million)

  • PBT of £5.2 million (FY209: £4.7 million) representing growth of 10.1%
  • Adjusted PBT1 of £5.8 million (FY2019: £5.1 million) representing growth of 12%
  • Basic EPS of 13.3 pence is up 9% from 12.2 pence
  • Adjusted EPS2 of 15.0 pence is up 11.9% from 13.4 pence
  • Continued strong cash conversion of 81% (FY2019: 91%) with cash from operations of £4.9 million (FY2019: £4.9 million)
  • As previously announced no final dividend proposed, meaning total ordinary dividend of 3.2 pence and special dividend of 8.0 pence paid in the year

1 Adjusted PBT for 2020 is calculated by adding back amortisation, share based payment costs and one off costs related to the property move to PBT.  For 2019 the adjustments were as for 2020 except there were no one off cost adjustments.  Details of these calculations are shown in the financial review.
2
The adjustments made to profit in calculating adjusted PBT have been made to earnings in order to calculate adjusted EPS.

Business Highlights

  • Lawyer recruitment strong with qualified new applicants Principals3 up 4% to 239 (2019: 230)
  • Principal3 lawyer numbers rising 18.4% from 277 to 328
  • Ongoing demand for junior support, both in Pods (up 21 (48%)) and through Central office
  • Total fee earners have increased 22.4% from 321 to 393
  • Invested in new office space to deliver more meeting rooms, hot desks and an improved lawyer centre
  • Aligned existing lease with new, now holding co-terminus 5 year leases
  • Ongoing investment in technology focused on enhancing security across the IT estate as well as improving lawyer experience of core systems

COVID-19 & Current Trading

  • FY2021 to date billing and cash generation have remained strong and in line with expectations
  • Since pandemic outbreak the Group has noticed a meaningful decline in the number of new instructions
  • Keystone is in a strong position to deal with the financial and operational impacts of COVID-19 pandemic
    • Highly liquid with £4.4 million of cash at 31 January 2020 and cash generative since
    • High proportion of cost base is fully variable, notably lawyer fees (c. 75% of revenue) which are also only paid when the client pays Keystone
    • Business model designed to deliver services remotely through bespoke technology platform, so substantially unaffected by government restrictions on movement.
    • The Group is well diversified across legal services, sectors, specialisms and clients so no high dependency on any single area of economy or client
  • Due to lack of clarity on how long current measures will remain in place and the economic impact of these, impact on FY2021 cannot be assessed
  • Modelled a range of scenarios, some more negative than the Board currently believe the most likely outcome, all of which show Keystone being profitable and cash generative for FY2021

3 Principal lawyers are the senior lawyer who own the service company (“Pod”) which contracts with Keystone. The relationship between Keystone and its lawyers is governed by two agreements: a service agreement (which governs the commercial terms and is between the Pod company and Keystone) and a compliance agreement (which governs the behaviour of lawyers and is between each lawyer and Keystone).  Pods can employ more than one fee earner.

James Knight, Chief Executive Officer of Keystone Law, commented: “I was delighted that last year was another strong year for us.  Throughout the year we have seen how the freedom and flexibility of the Keystone model, together with the first class support it provides, has continued to increase its appeal across the legal community.  It has been a great pleasure to see such high calibre lawyers being attracted to join Keystone and drive forward our growth

“The current year had started well and we were looking forward to another strong year of growth when the COVID-19 pandemic broke in the UK.  Whilst it is an extremely challenging time across the UK economy, we are in a strong position to deal with the challenges which lie ahead.  Our model is designed to service our clients remotely and so it was a very small step to move our central support services onto the same footing, achieving this with no adverse effects to service delivery.  Furthermore, we are in a strong financial position, both in terms of liquidity, being debt free and having over £4.4 million of cash, and in terms of the high proportion of our cost base which is fully variable and on a paid when paid basis.”

- Ends -

 

For further information:

Keystone Law Group plc

James Knight, Chief Executive Officer
Ashley Miller, Finance Director

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3319 3700
www.keystonelaw.co.uk


Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited
(Nominated Adviser and Broker)

Dominic Morley (Corporate Finance)
Erik Anderson (Corporate Broking)

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7886 2500
www.panmure.com

Media enquiries:

Buchanan

Henry Harrison-Topham / Steph Watson
[email protected]

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7466 5000
www.buchanan.uk.com

 

Notes to editors

Keystone Law is a UK Top 100, fast growing, profitable and cash generative challenger law firm.  Established in 2002, Keystone is one of the first platform models disrupting the traditional law firms operating within the legal services mid-market.  Keystone’s model permits rapid scalability, enabling the Group to increase the number of revenue generating lawyers more quickly than the traditional model.

As a full service law firm, Keystone delivers conventional legal services across more than 20 service areas and over 50 industry sectors to a client base comprising predominantly of SMEs and private individuals.  These services are delivered by over 325 experienced self-employed lawyers who work from their own offices; with no fixed remuneration their fees are calculated with direct reference to the income they generate for the Group.  The lawyers are fully supported by the Group’s central office team of approximately 45 employees, and are therefore able to focus entirely on business development and the delivery of legal work.

With the head office located in the heart of London’s legal district on Chancery Lane, the Group uses its bespoke proprietary software platform to enable Keystone’s lawyers to interact with the central office team and each other in an easy and efficient manner, whilst extensive networking and social events engender a strong sense of belonging to the Keystone family.  The platform also drives interaction, co-operation and a strong corporate culture across the business.

Keystone joined the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in November 2017, raising £15 million, under the ticker KEYS.  More information can be found at: www.keystonelaw.co.uk/

The information contained within this announcement is deemed by the Group to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014.  Upon the publication of this announcement via a Regulatory Information Service, this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain.  The person responsible for arranging the release of this announcement on behalf of the Group is Ashley Miller, Finance Director.