By Jennifer Saba
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp on Wednesday reported quarterly earnings that missed analysts forecasts, sending its shares lower even as the news and information company forecast a return to organic revenue growth.
Both adjusted fourth quarter profit and revenue missed analysts' forecasts as a strengthening U.S. dollar took its toll on Thomson Reuters, many of whose financial clients are overseas. Thomson Reuters shares, which have gained 24 percent over the last 12 months, were down 3.4 percent in early afternoon trade.
While full-year 2014 revenue factoring out currency changes or acquisitions was flat, Thomson Reuters said it expects such organic revenue to grow in 2015 after sales of its financial products outpaced cancellations in 2014 for the first time in six years.
The company has struggled in recent years to regain its footing after Thomson Corp acquired Reuters Group Plc in 2008, in a $17 billion merger that was completed just as the financial industry crisis started.
"We are entering 2015 in the best place we have been in a long time," Chief Executive Jim Smith said in an interview. "The underlying sales trajectory are good indicators of our capacity for future revenue growth."
The Financial & Risk division, which caters to banks and other financial institutions, represents more than half of the company's total revenue. For that division, net sales, which strip out cancellations, have lagged since the merger as banks slashed spending and cut headcount.
Smith said the company's revamp of desktop products, including its flagship Eikon terminal, have helped push up sales. This year, he said, will be the final year of product migrations.
"We can move from focusing on fixing things to growing," Smith said.
Adjusted for special items, fourth quarter income was $347 million, or 43 cents per share impacted partly by foreign currency fluctuations, compared with $170 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting 47 cents per share.
Total revenue for the period rose 1 percent before currency considerations to $3.21 billion, helped by strength at its legal and tax and accounting units. It decreased 2 percent when currencies moves were factored in. Analysts on average were expecting $3.27 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue at the Legal division rose 2 percent to $872 million while it surged 10 percent to $397 million at its Tax & Accounting unit.
Total revenue for the year was up 1 percent before currency adjustments at $12.6 billion.
The company's board approved a 2 cent annual dividend increase to $1.34 per share.
Shares of Thomson Reuters were down 3.4 percent at $38.26 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Toronto-listed shares were down 2.9 percent, trading at C$48.33.
(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Alden Bentley and Christian Plumb)