After two years of feeling the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Thomson Reuters Corp. is predicting a return to growth in 2011.
On Thursday, after reporting that its revenues for the year were up just 1 per cent, the company forecast a gain in revenue "in the mid single digits" for the coming year.
"2010 was a good transition year for us, in the sense that we achieved what we set out to accomplish, but it is by no means indicative of either our growth ambitions or what we are capable of," chief executive officer Tom Glocer told analysts on a conference call.
The company, which provides financial, legal and health-care information to professionals, has invested in a number of new products, including WestLawNext, which provides legal information to law firms and has more than 15,000 customers, and Eikon, a new desktop platform for financial professionals that has signed up 12,000 subscribers so far.
It also expanded its Reuters newswire service with the launch of Reuters America, targeting U.S. clients with more domestic news coverage. Those investments will help the company grow in 2011, Mr. Glocer said.
The company also expressed its optimism by raising its quarterly dividend 31 cents (U.S.) a share, or $1.24 annually, up 8 per cent from its payout in 2010. That compares with 4-per-cent increases in the past two years.
In a research note, RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds wrote that the company's forecast for 2011"looks in line, give or take" with expectations, but that the dividend boost was lower than expected.
For the fourth quarter, Thomson Reuters reported profit of $225-million (U.S.), or 27 cents a share, compared with $182-million, or 21 cents, a year earlier. Revenues for the quarter ended Dec. 31 were $3.5-billion, up 3 per cent from the previous year. For the full year, it earned $1.08 per share, up 7 per cent.
During the recession, many of its clients cut back on budgets and laid off workers, but Mr. Glocer said the company has seen signs of recovery. Its professional division saw revenues rise 4 per cent for the year. Revenue at its markets division was roughly flat. But Mr. Glocer said sales have picked up in the last quarter.
"It's always hard before the dawn to imagine that the sun will come up," he said. "But we see that playing through our net sales numbers."