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A Thomson Reuters office sign in Boston, on Aug. 6, 2009.Eric J. Shelton/The Associated Press

Thomson Reuters Corp. TRI-T on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected sales and operating profit in the first quarter, helped by divestitures and high customer retention rates, as it plans a deeper investment in artificial intelligence.

The news and information company reported adjusted earnings of 82 US cents per share, beating analyst forecasts for 80 US cents.

Total revenue rose 4 per cent in the quarter to US$1.738-billion, beating expectations, according to estimates from Refinitiv.

Thomson Reuters, which owns the Westlaw legal database, Reuters news agency and the Checkpoint tax and accounting service, said organic revenue was up 7 per cent for its “Big 3″ segments: Legal Professionals, Corporates and Tax & Accounting Professionals.

“While we acknowledge elevated macroeconomic uncertainty, our underlying business is resilient,” chief executive Steve Hasker said in a statement.

Thomson Reuters reaffirmed most 2023 financial estimates, but trimmed its full-year total revenue growth forecast to 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, from 4.5 per cent to 5 per cent, reflecting the sale of a majority stake in legal business management software company Elite to TPG.

In an interview with Reuters, Mr. Hasker said the company does not expect layoffs this year.

Shares, which reached a record high last month, fell about 1 per cent in both New York and Toronto trading.

The company “delivered a good quarter” but its positives are already reflected in its shares, analyst Matt Arnold of Edward Jones said in a note, adding he saw no catalyst for Tuesday’s stock decline.

Thomson Reuters plans to spend some US$100-million a year to invest in artificial intelligence, Mr. Hasker said. It will start seeing generative AI incorporated into flagship products in the second half of this year. Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that generates new content or data in response to a prompt, or question, by a user.

The US$100-million is separate from the company’s M&A budget, which will be about US$10-billion from now to 2025, Michael Eastwood, Thomson Reuters’ chief financial officer, said in an interview.

Over the past three years, almost all of the company’s M&A budget has been allocated to artificial intelligence, and executives see that trend continuing. AI features will be incorporated in most major business divisions – legal, tax and accounting, and in the news business.

AI is already embedded in Thomson Reuters products such as Westlaw Edge and Practical Law. In 2022, the company acquired PLX AI, a real-time financial news service powered by the technology.

The company said it sold 24.5 million shares of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) in the first quarter for gross proceeds of US$2.3-billion. As of April 30, it owned 47.4 million shares of LSEG, worth US$5-billion.

Thomson Reuters said it had “increasing confidence” about its outlook but noted there were “many signs that point to a weakening global economic environment” from high interest rates and geopolitical risk.

In April, the company said it would return US$2.2-billion to shareholders through a cash distribution and a reverse stock split after selling some of its LSEG shares.

Woodbridge Co. Ltd., the Thomson family holding company and controlling shareholder of Thomson Reuters, also owns The Globe and Mail.

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Tickers mentioned in this story

Study and track financial data on any traded entity: click to open the full quote page. Data updated as of 04/03/24 4:00pm EST.

SymbolName% changeLast
TRI-T
Thomson Reuters Corp
-0.32%215.2
TRI-N
Thomson Reuters Corp
-0.41%158.64

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