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UPDATE 4-Thomson Reuters 2020 outlook steady as profit exceeds forecasts

Wed, 5th Aug 2020 11:56

(Adds stock price reaction, paragraph 6)

By Nick Zieminski and Kenneth Li

NEW YORK, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp
reported higher-than-expected second quarter profit on
Wednesday and reaffirmed its 2020 forecast in the face of global
market uncertainty.

The news and information provider, which owns Reuters News,
said sales in the company's legal, tax and corporate businesses
are expected to rise in the current quarter.

"Results in the second quarter illustrate the resilience in
our business," Chief Executive Steve Hasker, who joined Thomson
Reuters this year, said in an interview.

The company was about two-thirds through a 2020 cost-cutting
program, which is focused on external costs, such as consultants
and travel and entertainment, and targets $100 million in
savings, Chief Financial Officer Michael Eastwood added.

"We will achieve it on discretionary expenses," Eastwood

The company's New York-listed shares were 0.3% lower at 1445
GMT, while its Toronto-listed shares were down 1.3%.

Thomson Reuters said it saw no significant disruptions from
the coronavirus crisis, adding that its 500,000 legal, tax and
other professional clients were able to access its services
online, working from home.

It said quarterly revenue dipped 1% to $1.405 billion and
operating profit fell 18% to $365 million, from $447 million a
year ago, when the quarter included some one-time items.

Adjusted earnings of 44 cents per share were ahead of the 38
cents analysts expected, according to Refinitiv, while sales met
Wall Street expectations.

Thomson Reuters expects higher free cash flow for the year,
between $1 and $1.1 billion, and said its three main divisions
should grow sales by 3%-4% in the third quarter.

Of its three largest divisions, Legal Professionals and
Corporates showed higher quarterly sales and adjusted profit,
while the Tax & Accounting Professionals segment saw lower sales
and adjusted profit, partly reflecting a delayed U.S. tax filing
season during the pandemic.

Reuters News saw organic revenues fall 11%, reflecting the
effect of the coronavirus crisis on its events business. The
news division's sales are forecast to be lower in the third
quarter and for the full year.

Hasker said merger and acquisitions activity has been muted
during the pandemic but may pick up in 2021.

"We have a healthy list of companies we monitor," he said.
(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York;
Editing by Alexander Smith)

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