Thomson Reuters Corp. boosted its annual dividend by four cents Thursday as it reported its earnings, the 19th consecutive annual increase to its payout to investors.
In his first conference call as chief executive officer, James Smith said his priority was “kick starting the growth engine in our former markets division.”
The company took a $3-billion non-cash goodwill charge due to the declining fortunes of its financial services business, an acknowledgment of the challenges facing the division as the company looks for better ways to get its data terminals and services in front of bankers and traders.
The launch of its new Eikon desktop data product did not go as well as expected, and growth slowed since the beginning of last year. Mr. Smith took over in January, and has moved quickly to get the division back on track. He said the division must focus on customer service, and he's had senior managers spend time in call centres to ensure they understand the issues.
“Like everyone else we will face headwinds this year,” he said. “It's early days, but I'm pleased to report we are getting our arms around the issues that are under our control. I am completely confident we can reignite growth in our financial business.”
Other factors remain beyond the company's control, namely the fate of the troubled banks the company relies on to fuel growth in its financial services division.
“The downdraft at global banks is beyond our control,” he said. “Better products, excellent customer service are well within our control.”
The company gave no details about the goodwill charge, which helped push its fourth-quarter results into a loss attributable to common shareholders of $2.57-billion, compared with a profit of $224 million in the year-ago quarter.
While the markets division underperformed, its legal, tax and accounting divisiosn saw revenue grow 9 per cent in the fourth quarter before currency charges to $1.5-billion, or 42 per cent of total revenue.