Thomson Reuters' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Thomson Reuters (TRI)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 09, 2012 8:30 am ET


Frank J. Golden - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

James C. Smith - Chief Executive Officer and Director

Stephane Bello - Chief Financial Officer


Michael A. Meltz - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Suzanne E. Stein - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Tim Casey - BMO Capital Markets Canada

Paul Steep - Scotiabank Global Banking and Market, Research Division

Brian Karimzad - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Matthew Chesler - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Drew McReynolds - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Sara Gubins - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

William G. Bird - Lazard Capital Markets LLC, Research Division

Vince Valentini - TD Securities Equity Research

Claudio Aspesi - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Thomson Reuters Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations, Mr. Frank Golden. Please go ahead, sir.

Frank J. Golden

Good morning, and thank you for joining us as we report fourth quarter and full year 2011 results. We will begin today with our CEO, Jim Smith; followed by Stephane Bello, our CFO. Following Jim and Stephane's presentations, we will open the call for questions, but please limit yourselves to one question each. Throughout today's presentation, keep in mind that when we compare period -- performance period-on-period, we look at revenue growth rates before currency as we believe this provides the best basis to measure the underlying performance of the business. In addition, today's results are presented on an ongoing basis and exclude disposals announced in 2011, including our Healthcare business.

Now today, we announced 3 disposals: Property Tax Services, a $100 million revenue business; our Law School Publishing business, with revenues of $45 million; and eXimius, a $10 million business in the Wealth Management unit of our Financial & Risk segment. Results for these 3 businesses are included within ongoing businesses for comparability purposes since we own them for the entire reporting period. These disposals are expected to close by midyear and are excluded from our 2012 outlook. On our website, we have posted our full 2012 outlook as an attachment to today's presentation. Lastly, in early April, we'll provide restated results for 2010 and 2011 that exclude these businesses.

Today's presentation contains forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially due to a number of risks and uncertainties discussed in reports and filings that we provide to regulatory agencies. You can access these documents on our website or by contacting our investor relations department.

It is my pleasure to now introduce the Chief Executive Officer of Thomson Reuters, Jim Smith.

James C. Smith

Thank you, Frank, and I'd like to thank all of you for joining us for my first earnings call as CEO. If anything has been reaffirmed to me over the past several weeks, it's just how strong this business really is. Our future is bright. Our core Professional businesses continue to deliver. We are making real progress in fixing the execution issues in some critical areas of our Markets business, and we're getting our product pipeline, including Eikon, back on track. Most importantly, we're seeing a number of opportunities to grow in a dramatically changing market environment. My new team is off to a flying start.

Today, I'll give you an overview of how we'll be managing the business. We will update you on the operational changes we've already put into place and we'll give you our outlook for 2012. But first, let me review our full year 2011 results.

2011 revenue grew by 5%, with particularly strong performance from our Professional businesses, Legal, Tax & Accounting, IP & Science. The Markets business grew 2% despite market headwinds and internal execution issues. EBITDA and operating profit margins were up nicely despite a $50 million charge in the fourth quarter, primarily related to the reorganization of the Markets business. Excluding that charge, the EBITDA margin was up over 300 basis points and operating margin was up nearly 100 basis points.

I'm sure you will be pleased to hear, as I am to announce, that we have completed the Reuters integration program, having achieved aggregate savings of $1.7 billion. This is the last time you will hear us utter the word integration.

Reported free cash flow was up slightly, but was impacted by a negative swing in working capital and the disposal of several cash-generative businesses last year. Free cash flow from ongoing businesses was up 7% for the year. Stephane will provide you with more detail during his presentation. Finally, adjusted earnings per share for the year were $1.98 or $2.03 before the reorganization charge I previously mentioned. Both figures exclude the impairment charge.

Professional's full year revenues rose 9%, driven by solid growth across each business: Legal was up 8%; Tax & Accounting was up 14%; and IP & Science was up 7%, a terrific performance. The strong growth is reflective of the investments we've been making in these businesses over the past 4 years with innovative products like WestlawNext and ONESOURCE. This organic growth has been supplemented with investments in fast-growing geography such as Latin America and in fast-growing adjacencies like tax management services for governments.

For the former Markets division businesses, now Financial & Risk, revenues increased 2%, finishing the year below what we had originally expected. Last year's poorly executed sales reorganization into the face of a challenging market environment resulted in a negative net sales for the second half of 2011. That, of course, creates a spillover effect into 2012. Still, significant parts of the Financial & Risk business are performing well and provide a solid foundation. We have a new, energetic, and engaged management team. We have a refined and more focused strategy and we have a whole new environment of rigorous operating management, transparency, accountability, and execution. We like our position. We have the best content, broad, deep, and truly global. We have a full range of solutions from desktop to enterprise at multiple price points and value propositions. We have a model that works with clients' internal data, their systems, and their third-party partners to build platforms upon which they can innovate. We have the best information architecture to tie it all together, and we are, far and away, the leader in regulatory compliance, perhaps the most significant factor driving change in financial services today. I'm confident that David Craig and his team are the right combination of ambition, urgency, and pragmatism to get the job done.

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