Thomson Reuters Corp. TRI-T reported rising revenue and raised its targets for the year while emphasizing to investors that its business model should prove resilient against potential shocks to the global economy from war in Europe and rising interest rates.
The news and information provider’s total revenue increased 6 per cent to US$1.67-billion, outpacing higher costs associated with the company’s two-year change program. Four of its five business units posted strong growth.
Chief executive officer Steve Hasker said his expectations for the company’s financial performance for the balance of the year are higher, even as the business environment across the world is increasingly fraught. He now expects total revenue to rise by 5.5 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 5 per cent, driven by faster growth from the company’s three biggest units that serve legal, tax and accounting, and corporate professionals.
“When you look at the potential outcomes of the war [in Ukraine], the potential outcomes of interest rate tightening by the central banks, what happens next with COVID-19, and how all of those things play into geopolitics, it’s quite an uncertain time,” Mr. Hasker said in an interview. “And you don’t have to be a doomsdayer to come up with some pretty nasty scenarios for 2022 and 2023.”
His confidence in Thomson Reuters’s ability to weather a potential economic storm comes first from the fact that 80 per cent of the company’s revenues are locked into multiyear contracts, which gives the company certainty about the money coming in. Thomson Reuters also has low debt and a US$7.2-billion stake in the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), which it can sell in tranches from 2023 to 2025.
“We think that provides us with tremendous firepower in uncertain times, particularly as valuations come back to earth a little bit,” Mr. Hasker said.
His focus on valuations relates to the company’s stated pursuit of acquisitions to bolster its core business units, which have been hampered in recent quarters by the high price tags attached to technology and software companies. Of late, there appears to be “more downward pressure than up” on company valuations, and Mr. Hasker is increasingly hopeful that Thomson Reuters can do “a few transactions this year and next.”
The company also has minimal direct exposure to Russia of less than US$10-million annually, mostly tied to customers of its Reuters news agency business.
In the first quarter, Thomson Reuters earned US$1-billion, or US$2.07 a share, compared with US$5-billion, or US$10.15, a year earlier. But the latest quarter and the comparable period a year ago were both affected by large one-time gains related to the sale of its former financial and risk division, now known as Refinitiv, to the LSEG.
Adjusted to exclude those items, Thomson Reuters said it earned 66 US cents a share, ahead of the consensus estimate of 61 US cents among analysts, according to Refinitiv.
Woodbridge Co. Ltd., the Thomson family holding company and controlling shareholder of Thomson Reuters, also owns The Globe and Mail.
Fifteen months into Thomson Reuters’s transformation plan, which aims to sharpen the company’s focus on using technology to provide its content and to improve the experience for customers, the company has invested US$357-million of a planned US$600-million. So far, that has generated annual savings of about US$305-million.
Revenue from Thomson Reuters’s unit serving legal clients increased 4 per cent to US$698-million. Revenue from corporate clients was up 8 per cent to US$411-million, and tax and accounting revenue surged 11 per cent higher to US$253-million. First-quarter results also got a boost from higher than normal revenue from transactions that are not expected to recur.
The fourth unit that posted growth was Reuters News, where revenue was up 7 per cent to US$176-million. Revenue at the company’s Global Print segment fell 1 per cent in the quarter to US$142-million.
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