According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the world’s 500 richest people added $852 billion to their wealth in the first half of 2023.
Listed from 198th spot through 200 are siblings David, Taylor and Peter Thomson, each estimated to be worth $10.1 billion (all figures in U.S. dollars unless noted otherwise).
The trio are the children of Kenneth Thomson and grandchildren of Canadian media magnate Roy Thomson, who founded the Thomson Reuters (CA:TRI, US:TRI) empire, which began with Roy Thomson buying a North Bay radio station in 1931.
Each of the three owns 14% of the Thomson family holding company, Woodbridge Company Limited. Woodbridge, in turn, owns 69% of Thomson Reuters.
The Thomsons got wealthy from TRI stock’s nearly 8% gain year-to-date. Should regular investors get on board for the second half and beyond? Maybe.
Latest Acquisition Gets a Thorough Look
Thomson Reuters announced on June 26 that it was paying $650 million to acquire Casetext. The California-based company helps lawyers do their jobs more efficiently through CoCounsel, a generative AI product it launched in early March.
That’s a significant sum to pay for a company whose main product is just four months old. Institutional investors peppered Thomson Reuters CEO Steve Hasker on the conference call discussing the deal. Specifically, why didn’t it develop its own generative AI platform?
The simple answer: Casetext had too big a lead, giving Hasker and company $650 million reasons to make the buy.
“What’s unique about Casetext and how they have built CoCounsel is they’re one of a very few set of companies out there that also have access to data,” Thomson Reuters Chief Product Officer David Wong said during the conference call, LawSites reported.
“They had access to, again, the historical Casetext research data set, and so they had the benefit of both the early access to GPT-4 as well as experience in how to combine it with an authoritative data set, albeit again, a smaller, less sophisticated one than we have.”
While Casetext’s revenues are minimal, Hasker figures that Thomson Reuters can quickly accelerate the platform’s revenue-earning potential. He anticipates it will increase the company’s revenue growth over the next few years.
Hasker and Wong stated that its generative AI strategy of build-partner-buy remains its primary focus. The three aren’t mutually exclusive. It plans to take CoCounsel and make it even better than it already is.
Ultimately, $650 million isn’t a lot for a $61 billion market cap.
How’s Thomson Reuters Existing Business?
Analysts are only partially sold on Thomson Reuters at the moment. Of the 17 covering its stock, only six rate it as ‘overweight’ or outright ‘buy’. Worse still, two rate it ‘underweight’ or an outright ‘sell’ with a median target price of $138, just 3% higher than where it’s currently trading.
Fund Sentiment is low, 36.69 on Fintel’s score of ownership accumulation change and portfolio allocation over the latest quarter. And TRI stock’s Quality Score, which identifies high quality companies, based on cash generating efficiencies, at 68.54, puts it above average, but not quite in the attractive zone.
To be sure, its results for the first quarter of 2023 were healthy. Revenues grew 4% year-over-year (6% organic growth) to $1.74 billion, with an operating profit of $508 million, 23% higher than a year earlier. Its recurring revenues (the best kind) accounted for 76% of its total revenue, 6% higher than a year ago. Free cash flow in the quarter was $133 million, 58% above Q1 2022.
There’s nothing off about those numbers.
An Excellent Long-Term Buy
The only issue might be that its largest operating segment — Legal Professionals — experienced just 2% growth (4% organic) in the quarter, much less than the other two of its “Big 3” segments.
You could also argue that its Reuters News and Global Print segments do little to grow revenues or profits. In the second quarter, the two businesses had combined revenues of $313 million, 1.7% less than a year ago. Its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the two segments fell 12.2%, to $79 million, or 11.3% of its adjusted EBITDA.
If it were making $650 million acquisitions for either of these businesses, investors would have reason to be concerned about its strategic direction.
Of the Big 3, its Legal Professionals segment has the weakest growth. Buying CaseText addresses this situation.
Thomson Reuters’ current enterprise value is $63.16 billion, 21.9x EBITDA. That’s about 10% elevated from its five-year average.
If you’re holding for three-to-five years, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s an excellent long-term buy.
This article originally appeared on Fintel
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