Lowell Group, a UK leader in debt recovery services, today announces a strong set of consolidated annual results for the period ended 30 September 2014. The results demonstrate consistent and sustainable growth, high returns and visible earnings.
To allow historical comparisons figures quoted for the prior financial year* are for the 12 months to end September 2013.
*During the period Lowell Group moved its financial year end 2013 by one month from August to September 2013 to align the company’s reporting quarters with the more usual calendar quarters.
- Estimated remaining collections (ERC) on a 84 months basis up 34 per cent to £714 million at 30 September 2014
- Estimated remaining collections (ERC) on a 120 months basis up 35 per cent to £801 million at 30 September 2014
- Gross Cash-on-Cash multiple held steady at 2.3x (on a rolling 120 month basis) at 30 September 2014
- Cash collections up 21 per cent at £197 million to 30 September 2014
- Adjusted EBITDA (excluding exceptional items) for the year up 14 per cent to £126 million
- Portfolio purchases up 32 per cent at £162 million
- Sector diversification with a continued specialism in non-paying low balance accounts
- FCA preparation continues to progress well with external endorsement for ‘exceptional’ customer service (building on our ‘outstanding’ award in 2013) and positive net promoter score
- Attracted new equity investment from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and raised £115m of new debt finance at a market leading rate
- Investing for the future across the three pillars of our business, our people, practices and systems;
- People – a number of new high calibre recruits joined Team Lowell, building on an already strong and accomplished team, in addition to augmenting our resource across the Analytics and Change functions
- Practices – co-sourcing of Internal Audit function with PWC, together with the bolstering of resource within our Compliance function
- Systems – successful outsource of our IT infrastructure to Rackspace and achieved accreditation of the ISO27001 Information security industry standard
Commenting on the results, Colin Storrar, CFO, said:
“Today’s results see Lowell deliver another year of record and sustainable results, with strong growth, strong returns and ongoing liquidity all evident.
“Given we moved to a September year end in 2013 to align our quarterly reporting with calendar quarters, comparison to prior periods is best done by considering the 12 months to September 2013. The sustainable growth of our business is clearly evident on this like-for-like comparison, with a 21 cent increase in cash collections, a 14 per cent increase in Adjusted EBITDA and a 34 per cent increase in ERC.
“Over the year we invested a record £162 million in portfolio acquisitions taking the face value of our purchases to over £13bn. In the process we have amassed an industry leading data asset of over 15.6 million accounts with 8 million individual customers.
“The vast majority of our collections continue to come from our own UK-based contact centre which we have spent 11 years refining. The breadth and expertise of our in house activities allow us to work more efficiently, price more effectively and pinpoint our resources more accurately. It also provides transparent oversight of all our functions and points of customer engagement. Across the Group, we send out over three million letters each month, and receive and make over 150,000 calls. We also set up in the region of 5,000 new arrangements a day.
“Our focus on compliance continues to be central to our thinking and our actions. We have further embedded our FAIR (Focused, Accessible, Informed and Reasonable) culture into our organisational DNA – listening and understanding circumstances is central to all our customer conversations. Our approach of understanding their income and expenditure and setting up affordable payment plans is clearly working with the level of defaults reduced to the lowest levels we’ve ever seen. Our customer service efforts have been recognised and endorsed in the strongest way possible – through the award of an exceptional rating from the UK’s leading customer experience consultancy Investor in Customers (building on the outstanding rating we received in 2013).”
Non-IFRS financial measures
We have included certain non-IFRS financial measures in this annual report, including estimated remaining collections (“ERC”) and Adjusted EBITDA.
We present ERC because it represents our expected gross cash proceeds of the purchased debt portfolios recorded on our balance sheet (the “Purchased Assets”) over an 84-month period. ERC is calculated as of a point in time assuming no additional purchases are made. ERC is a metric that is also often used by other companies in our industry. We present ERC because it represents our best estimate of the undiscounted cash value of our Purchased Assets at any point in time, which is an important supplemental measure for our board of directors and management to assess our performance, and underscores the cash generation capacity of the assets backing our business. In addition, the instruments governing our indebtedness use ERC to measure our compliance with certain covenants and, in certain circumstances, our ability to incur indebtedness. ERC is a projection, calculated by our proprietary analytical models, which utilize historical portfolio collection performance data and assumptions about future collection rates, and we cannot guarantee that we will achieve such collections. ERC, as computed by us, may not be comparable to similar metrics used by other companies in our industry.
We present Adjusted EBITDA because we believe it may enhance an investor’s understanding of our profitability and cash flow generation that could be used to service or pay down debt, pay income taxes, purchase new debt portfolios and for other uses, and because it is frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other interested parties in the evaluation of companies generally. In addition to ERC, our board of directors and management also use Adjusted EBITDA to assess our performance. Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure calculated in accordance with IFRS and our use of the term Adjusted EBITDA may vary from others in our industry.
ERC and Adjusted EBITDA and all the other non-IFRS measures presented have important limitations as analytical tools and you should not consider them in isolation or as substitutes for analysis of our results as reported under IFRS.