Thomson Reuters reports flat Q1 revenues

Source: Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters (TSX / NYSE: TRI) today reported results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016. The company also re-affirmed its 2016 full-year outlook.

  • Reported revenues declined 1%. Before currency, revenues grew 1%
  • Excluding recoveries, revenues increased 2% (before currency)
  • Adjusted EBITDA grew 2% to $748 million with a margin of 26.8% vs. 26.0% in the prior-year period. Currency had a 70 basis point favorable impact on the margin
  • Underlying operating profit grew 8% to $498 million with a margin of 17.8% vs. 16.3% in the prior-year period. Currency had a 70 basis point favorable impact on the margin
  • Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) increased 23% to $0.48 , an increase of $0.09 per share. Currency had a $0.01 favorable impact on adjusted EPS
  • Repurchased 11.7 million shares at a cost of $432 million in the first quarter

Sale process for Intellectual Property & Science launched, with a closing currently expected in the second half of 2016
"The year is off to a solid start," said Jim Smith , president and chief executive officer of Thomson Reuters. "Today's results are in line with our expectations and it is encouraging to see the continued positive trajectory of our business, despite a somewhat volatile and challenging period in external markets during the first quarter."

Highlights by Business Unit

Unless otherwise noted, all revenue growth comparisons in this news release are before the impact of foreign currency (constant currency) as Thomson Reuters believes this provides the best basis to measure the performance of its business.

Financial & Risk

Revenues declined 1% compared to the prior-year period. However, revenues grew approximately 2% before the impact of lower recoveries revenues and commercial pricing adjustments.

Recurring revenues (77% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) increased 1%, benefitting from higher data feeds and risk revenues as well as an annual price increase, which more than offset lower revenues resulting from the price adjustments referred to above.

Transactions revenues (14% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) decreased 1% due to lower foreign exchange volumes.

Low-margin recoveries revenues (9% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) were down 13% as some third-party partners continue to move to direct billing with their customers.

As previously disclosed, Financial & Risk's recoveries revenues are expected to decline approximately $100 million in 2016. Recoveries represent revenues for content or services provided by third parties and distributed through Financial & Risk's platform. This projected reduction in recoveries revenue has no impact on EBITDA or operating profit.

Net sales were again positive overall and were positive in all regions, except for EMEA. This marked the eighth consecutive quarter of positive net sales.

By geography, revenues in Asia were up 3% and the Americas up 1%, while revenues in Europe , Middle East and Africa (EMEA) were down 3%.

EBITDA increased 9% and the margin increased 320 basis points to 29.0% compared to 25.8% in the prior-year period. Excluding the impact of currency, the margin increased 260 basis points. The improving EBITDA margin reflected savings related to efficiency initiatives and platform closures completed in 2015.

Operating profit increased 22% and the margin increased 400 basis points to 19.5% compared to 15.5% in the prior-year period. Excluding the impact of currency, the margin increased 380 basis points. The operating profit margin improvement reflected the same factors that impacted EBITDA.

Legal

Revenues increased 2%. Excluding US print, revenues grew 3%.

Solutions businesses (44% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) grew 3%. Revenue growth was driven by Legal Managed Services (formerly Pangea3) and businesses in the United Kingdom / Ireland (UKI) and Latin America . Findlaw revenues declined primarily due to lower transaction revenues.

US online legal information (42% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) grew 2%, reflecting growth for the fifth consecutive quarter.

US print (14% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) declined 3%.

EBITDA increased 4% and the margin increased 160 basis points to 36.3% compared to 34.7% in the prior-year period. Excluding the impact of currency, the margin increased 40 basis points.

Operating profit increased 9% and the margin increased 240 basis points to 29.0% compared to 26.6% in the prior-year period. Excluding the impact of currency, the margin increased 120 basis points.

Tax & Accounting

Revenues increased 8% driven by the Corporate and Professional businesses, partially offset by a decline in the Government business. Recurring revenues (82% of the segment's revenues in the quarter) were up 11%.

EBITDA decreased 10% and the margin decreased 450 basis points to 29.3% compared to 33.8% in the prior-year period primarily due to severance charges, growth investments and the benefit of several one-time items in the first quarter of 2015.

Excluding the impact of currency, the margin declined 580 basis points.

Operating profit decreased 15% and the margin decreased 500 basis points to 21.3% compared to 26.3% in the prior-year period. Excluding the impact of currency, the margin was down 620 basis points for the same reasons that drove EBITDA margin performance.

The timing of revenues and expenses can impact margins in any given quarter for the Tax & Accounting business. Full-year margins are more reflective of the segment's underlying performance.

Corporate & Other (Including Reuters News)

Reuters News revenues were $75 million , up $1 million from the prior-year period.

Corporate & Other costs were $118 million compared to $97 million in the prior-year period. The increase was largely comprised of costs related to the company's transformation program.

Discontinued Operations – Intellectual Property & Science

The company's Intellectual Property & Science business, which is currently expected to be sold in the second half of 2016, has been classified as a discontinued operation for 2016 reporting purposes. In the first quarter of 2016, Intellectual Property & Science's revenues increased 4%.

2016 Business Outlook (Before Currency)

Thomson Reuters today re-affirmed its full-year business outlook for 2016 which was previously communicated in February 2016 . The company's 2016 Outlook assumes constant currency rates compared to 2015 and all metrics below (except for free cash flow) exclude the Intellectual Property & Science business, which has been classified as a discontinued operation for 2016 reporting purposes. The 2016 Outlook is based on the expected performance of the company's remaining businesses and does not factor in the impact of any other acquisitions or divestitures that may occur during the year.

The company expects:

Low single-digit revenue growth

2% to 3% revenue growth excluding Financial & Risk's recoveries revenues, which are low margin revenues and are expected to decline as partners move to direct billing with their customers

Adjusted EBITDA margin to range between 27.3% and 28.3%

Comparable 2015 EBITDA margin (excluding Intellectual Property & Science business) was 27.3%

Underlying operating profit margin to range between 18.4% and 19.4%

Comparable 2015 underlying operating profit margin (excluding Intellectual Property & Science business) was 18.1%

Free cash flow to range between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion in 2016

The information in this section is forward-looking and should be read in conjunction with the section below entitled "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements, Material Assumptions and Material Risks."

Dividend and Share Repurchases

In February 2016 , the Thomson Reuters board of directors approved a $0.02 per share annualized increase in the dividend to $1.36 per common share. A quarterly dividend of $0.34 per share is payable on June 15, 2016 to common shareholders of record as of May 19, 2016 .

In the first quarter of 2016, the company repurchased approximately 11.7 million shares at a cost of approximately $432 million . Approximately $260 million of these repurchases were part of the $1.5 billion buyback program announced in February 2016 . 

Contributed | what does this mean?
This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.

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