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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Reuters back in profit
Financial information

News and financial information provider Reuters has beaten expectations with a return to profit for the first six months of the year.

But the group also reported a 10% fall in subscription revenues and narrowed its forecast for 2003 as a whole, estimating core subscriptions would fall by 11% in the year.

This has prompted suggestions that the group is only making profits because of sharp cuts.

And chief executive Tom Glocer warned analysts against raising their expectations too high.

"We see another challenging two years ahead of us.

"I do want to caution you against forecasting too early a recovery," he said.

Reuters has had to cut costs significantly in the past year to compensate for dwindling spending by its core customers - banks, fund managers and brokerages - as they themselves struggle with the prolonged stock market downturn.

Funding profits

It reported a pre-tax profit of 87m for the six months to 30 June, against analysts' expectations of about 42m and a loss last year of 10m.

But recurring revenues - where customers renew existing subscriptions - fell by 10% to 1.2bn in the period.

I'm happy with the progress we're making but I won't be fully happy until we've got the entire company turned around
Tom Glocer, Reuters chief executive
Subscriptions account for about 93% of Reuters' revenue.

The company announced in April that it was cutting 3,000 jobs over the next three years, after revealing its first loss since it became a listed company in 1984.

The BBC's business editor Jeff Randall said: "The bad news's managed to make this profit because obviously it's cutting costs even further.

"While (financial markets) are still subdued it will be very difficult for Reuters to stage a strong recovery."

Analysts, however, said the numbers were encouraging.

"They're definitely a good boost for morale," said Nic Cardini at fund manager Gerrard.

Turning the corner

Reuters said conditions remained difficult but that it had launched a range of new financial products and won two new contracts with leading investment banks Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers.

Mr Glocer told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he believed the company had now gained "momentum" but that it was continuing with its planned job cuts.

"I'm happy with the progress we're making but I won't be fully happy until we've got the entire company turned around."

A spokeswoman for the group said Lehman Brothers was its first client for a new research and advisory product while its contract with Goldman Sachs would mean them "looking to put us more prominently on their desks".

Goldman Sachs currently uses products from both Reuters and its rival Bloomberg, with whom it is engaged in fierce competition. Last month, Reuters announced it was suing Bloomberg for patent infringement.

Investors remained unimpressed, with the shares falling 8% to close at 201p.

They have climbed strongly from less than 100p earlier this year, but are still way off their peak of 1,452 three years ago.

Mr Glocer joined Reuters in 1991 and was named chief executive in December 2000.

He is the first American to head the company.

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