Thomson Reuters' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Thomson Reuters (TRI)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 01, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

Frank J. Golden - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

James C. Smith - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Stephane Bello - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Suzanne E. Stein - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Drew McReynolds - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Vince Valentini - TD Securities Equity Research

Tim Casey - BMO Capital Markets Canada

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

Phillip Huang - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Adam Shine - National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division

Paul D. Sullivan - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Douglas M. Arthur - Evercore Partners Inc., Research Division

Matthew Walker - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Sami Kassab - Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Thomson Reuters First Quarter 2012 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, Frank Golden, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

Frank J. Golden

Good morning, and thank you for joining us as we report first quarter 2012 results. We'll 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. Please limit yourselves to one question each so we can get to as many as possible.

Throughout today's presentation, keep in mind that when we compare 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 to-date, including our Healthcare business.

Before we begin, let me point out that on our website today, you'll find a small change to the Financial & Risk restated financials we've provided to you on April 1. Neither the total company annual revenues, nor our total company quarterly figures have changed, nor have the Q1 growth rates for any of the business units changed. The changes relate solely to the allocation of revenues among the 4 Financial & Risk business units based on the new structure we announced on January 1 of this year.

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 CEO of Thomson Reuters, Jim Smith.

James C. Smith

Thank you, Frank, and thanks to those of you on the call for joining us. Today, we will review the first quarter results and update you on the progress we're making toward the priorities I outlined during our year-end earnings call in February. I'll then turn it over to Stephane, who will provide you with further details on the results for the quarter.

I would characterize the first quarter's results as on-track and consistent with our full year expectations. In short, so far so good. Total revenues were up 4% as the Legal, Tax & Accounting and IP & Science units all did a bit better than expected. Overall, Financial & Risk grew modestly in what continues to be a very choppy environment, particularly in Europe. EBITDA increased 15% with healthy margin improvement. Operating profit rose 2%. Adjusted earnings per share in the quarter were $0.44 compared to $0.37 in Q1 2011, a 19% increase.

Last week, we announced an agreement to sell our Healthcare business for $1.25 billion in cash. We expect to realize net after-tax proceeds of about $1 billion. The sale is not subject to financing conditions and we expect the deal to close on late Q2 or early Q3. We expect to use the proceeds for tactical acquisitions, organic investment and for share buybacks on an opportunistic basis.

Lastly but importantly, we are reaffirming our full year 2012 outlook.

Now let me return to our results by business segment. This slide reflects the new organization structure I outlined last quarter. Financial & Risk revenues rose 1% and now include the Governance, Risk & Compliance business. Good growth in marketplaces and GRC were offset by weakness in the trading and investor segments.

Revenues by geography saw Europe, Middle East and Africa rise 2%; the Americas were up 1%; and Asia was flat due to softness in Japan. Overall, Financial & Risk net sales performance in Q1 was slightly better than Q4, but it was still negative. A modest improvement in the Americas was largely offset by a difficult environment in Europe. As we've previously stated, we do not expect net sales to turn positive until the end of the year, and, therefore, it's important to look at the momentum and run rate trend as we exit 2012. We are targeting a gradual improvement in net sales over the course of the year, driven by service improvements, new product rollouts, including Eikon.

Tax & Accounting had a terrific quarter, with revenues up 31%, 9% organic. Growth was strong across the business. IP & Science revenues grew 4%. Legal had a good start to the year across the board, with revenues up 3%, 2% organic in what appears to be a slightly better legal market environment. We are particularly encouraged by the sales performance in our Legal and Tax & Accounting units, which were slightly ahead of our expectations.

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