Thomson Reuters Corp
The news and financial data publisher, whose shares rose as much as 6.5 percent on the results, said on Tuesday that all its businesses would help increase revenue in 2009.
The markets division, which serves financial institutions, also would do better than people expect, Chief Executive Tom Glocer said in an interview.
The performance of professional division, which sells databases and other deep information reservoirs to lawyers, accountants, scientists and the healthcare industry, also remains strong, the company said.
The business model of supplying professionals with all-electronic content is something that's not a luxury good, Glocer said.
The company, formed by Thomson Corp's purchase of Reuters Group Plc last April, reported fourth-quarter net income of $656 million, or 79 cents a share, compared with $432 million, or 67 cents a share, a year earlier.
Profit from ongoing businesses, excluding special items, was 57 cents per share, beating the average analyst forecast of 39 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company said it expected that revenue, before currency effects, would grow in 2009 but it did not provide a specific forecast. Some analysts were expecting revenue to fall by up to 4 percent this year.
It also said its underlying free cash flow and operating margin this year would be comparable to 2008, supported by revenue growth and higher integration savings.
They're seeing sales growth; that's probably a positive in this environment, said Alex DeGroote, media analyst at brokerage Panmure Gordon in London.
The expectation of flat free cashflow in a tough market for the world appears very laudable, he said.
Thomson Reuters increased its dividend by 4 cents per share on an annualized basis, and said the quarterly dividend payable on March 26 would be 28 cents per share.
It also raised its forecast for annualized cost savings from the merger to $1 billion by the end of 2011, up from $750 million projected in May 2008. The integration plan does not include any new rounds of layoffs, Glocer said.
MARKETS REVENUE FALLS 2 PCT
Thomson Reuters, like its rivals Bloomberg LP and News Corp's
Revenue in the markets division fell 2 percent to $1.9 billion. Overall revenue was flat at $3.4 billion, but would have increased 5 percent before currency effects.
It is hard to see anything else outside the doom and gloom in the two financial and media capitals, Glocer said. It's going to be a tough year, but when you put it all together, we still think the company will be able to show growth.
Thomson Reuters has been relying on its professional division, which includes the Westlaw legal database, as banks, insurers and asset managers have cut more than 312,000 jobs worldwide since the credit crisis began in 2007.
The professional division reported revenue of $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, up 3 percent. The rise came in part from online, software and services revenue growth of 10 percent.
Anglo-Dutch publisher and professional information provider Reed Elsevier
Chief Financial Officer Robert Daleo said the strengthening of the dollar versus the pound had hurt revenue, but had less of an impact on earnings because of the company's large pound cost base.
If the dollar stands where it is today, and the pound, you'd probably see a continued adverse effect in terms of revenues, Daleo said on a call with reporters.
Shares of the company were up 5.3 percent at 1,392 in late London trading compared with their previous close of 1,322.
Thomson Reuters' London shares have fallen by about 25 percent in the past 12 months while its Canadian shares have fallen about 20 percent amid worries that sales to financial clients would decline in line with levels experienced by Reuters Group Plc earlier in the decade.
I think it's fair to say that most UK-based investors will be slightly wrong-footed by this, certainly ones that remember the Reuters of 2001-2003, DeGroote said.
(Editing by Tiffany Wu and Ted Kerr)