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Thomson Reuters earnings beat predictions

Three months ago, Thomson Reuters Corp. told investors that it had hit bottom. Major budget cuts in the midst of the recession led to cancellations of subscriptions to its information services, losses which showed up on the books this year. But now, the company is "on the way back up," chief executive officer Tom Glocer said on Thursday.

Profits jumped 66 per cent in the third quarter, beating analyst expectations as well as the company's own predictions. The provider of financial, legal and health-care information, as well as owner of the Reuters news service, now expects revenues for this year to be flat or slightly up, compared with earlier predictions they would be flat or slightly down.

"We're now into positive territory with those trends likely to continue," Mr. Glocer said in an interview. "The only real issue is the rate of ascent, how steep is the curve … There's a slow, steady growth."

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Thomson Reuters reported profit of $277-million (U.S.), or 32 cents a share, compared with $167-million, or 19 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Revenues for the quarter ended Sept. 30 were $3.3-billion, up 1.2 per cent from the previous year.

The positive trends follow a busy year of launches across the company's divisions, with six new products for customers. Mr. Glocer emphasized the success of WestlawNext, a legal research system that has signed up more than 9,000 customers since its launch in February.

In September, the company launched Eikon, a new desktop platform for financial professionals, which has had more than 1,000 new sales; this should have an impact on revenues next year, as lagging subscription payments help to boost financial growth.

Mr. Glocer said he is particularly encouraged that the Eikon customers represented new subscriptions, as opposed to upgrades from other Thomson Reuters products.

In a research note on Thursday, UBS analyst Phillip Huang called the early-adoption numbers for Eikon "encouraging," and predicted "the unique platform will generate significant interest in the year ahead."

Thomson Reuters said that after budget and staff cuts during the recession, things are looking up at the financial services companies and law firms that are among its clients, meaning the pressure on sales of its products has eased. And despite the downturn, in emerging markets - China, India, Brazil and the Middle East - business has continued to grow, Mr. Glocer said.

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