The chief executive officer of Thomson Reuters Corp. says the global business information provider has weathered the economic storm and is prepared to return to revenue growth in the second half of 2010.
In a speech to shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in downtown Toronto, CEO Tom Glocer said Thomson Reuters stood to gain from new products being launched this year, including software for the financial services industry, tax professionals and lawyers, as well as Reuters Insider, a new Web-based business news television service.
He said recent first-quarter results that showed the company with an underlying operating profit of $555-million (U.S.), down 6 per cent from a year before, still suggest the firm is on the right track. "While the numbers themselves were flat to slightly down ... the market viewed them quite favourably and there is much to be positive about."
In comments after the meeting to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Glocer said that while volatility in Greece was helping the company's currency trading and news businesses, he had concerns about the European economy.
"Not just Greece or the knock-on effect, but I'm worried about deflation, whether we're going to see default eventually, notwithstanding the euro rescue plan, the implications of crowding out the private market and what ultimately they need to grow their economies," Mr. Glocer said. "And that looks challenging."
But he said he was optimistic about the North American economy, and seeing strong growth in Asia. And Mr. Glocer said the company was still looking at acquisitions, although he did not predict any deals with more than a $1-billion price tag.
"Our history has been to make a number of small to medium-size fold-in acquisitions, and that'll be true this year as well ... There's more in the pipeline," Mr. Glocer said.
Thomson Reuters shareholders voted in favour of a plan to freeze base salaries for Mr. Glocer and four other key executives this year, in a so-called "say on pay" resolution.
A labour dispute dogging Thomson Reuters in New York also came up at the meeting. Lise Lareau of the Canadian Media Guild, which is a shareholder, asked how much money Reuters was spending on lawyers in the dispute with 420 of its unionized journalists there. She accused the company of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mr. Glocer said he did not know but would be surprised if the bills were that high. He said he believed it was possible to reach an agreement with the union.
"We are in a very delicate place right now," Mr. Glocer said. " ... I'm comfortable that legally and ethically the company has acted properly."