After telling shareholders a turnaround story last year, Thomson Reuters Corp. says a promising first quarter has it on solid footing to grow in 2014.
Growth will come mostly from “organic initiatives” rather than acquisitions, chief executive Jim Smith said at the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto on Thursday. And it will be driven by culture change among its nearly 58,000 employees around the world, aimed at simplifying the business and emphasizing sales.
“The pace of change becomes more pronounced with every passing year,” chairman David Thomson said, and the company is looking for ways to spend less, with a plan to cut $400-million (U.S.) in costs by 2017. But it is also targeting fast-expanding businesses for customers with a view to growing in step with them. More than half of Thomson Reuters revenues now come from companies averaging 9-per-cent annual growth.
“We are aggressively shifting our focus and our resources behind those businesses,” Mr. Smith said. “We believe that, going forward, we will achieve a gradual improvement in revenue performance, a natural evolution.”
The fastest-growing arm of Thomson Reuters has been its tax and accounting division, where revenue rose 10 per cent to $348-million in the first quarter. But Mr. Smith said he also sees “legs” both in regulatory compliance products and in software that helps companies automate cross-border trade.
Profit was $282-million in the first quarter after a loss of $31-million in the same period last year. Profit was bolstered in part by a rebounding financial and risk division, where revenue rose 1 per cent to $1.66-billion . Last year, total revenue fell 3 per cent to $12.7-billion. Woodbridge Co. Ltd., the Thomson family’s holding company, is the majority owner of The Globe and Mail.