Millions of pounds have been wiped off the value of the leading listed law firms since the pandemic hit, new research shows.
Like-for-like comparisons to six months ago – when coronavirus was on the eve of locking down the UK – demonstrates that five of the most prominent public firms have lost between 12% and 55% of their market value.
Main market listed firm DWF experienced the biggest drop in market capitalisation - share price multiplied by number of outstanding shares - from £427m six months ago to £191m according to latest prices.
However against the trend Knights plc increased its market cap by 22% with shares bouncing back rapidly from the immediate hit in March and April.
Shares in Gateley, Keystone, Ince, Rosenblatt and DWF are all lower than they were at the start of March. Some had already dropped in the midst of international disruption, but in almost all cases they plummeted in March before stabilising and starting to recover over the summer.
As of 1 September, Gateley shares are 133.5p, down from 173.5p on 2 March, Keystone has dropped to 442.5p from 545p, Ince is 24.2p from 39.8p, and Rosenblatt is down to 73.5p from 84p. DWF has gone through a management overhaul and redundancy consultation in the past six months, during which time its share price has fallen from 137p to 58.8p today.
According to the London Stock Exchange’s latest market cap figures, Gateley’s value is down 20% to £160m, Keystone is down 14% to £138m, Ince has dropped 39% to £16.59m, and Rosenblatt is down 12.5% to £63m.
National firm Knights, which has a long-standing commitment to expand in all regions except for London, is now worth £384m – up 22% on the end of February.
While the figures for most firms will be disappointing, the falls are relatively small compared with other sectors.
Mike Allen, head of research at Zeus Capital, which advises on flotations, said it was difficult to compare listed law firms because of the varied nature of their models, but most have been resilient and may even be able to save costs through more home working.
‘We have not had any profit warnings due to Covid although it has probably caused a bit of pressure in commercial real estate and exposure to that,’ he said. ‘We have economic uncertainty at the moment but I would still expect some legal businesses to join the market in the coming years.’