FactSet revenue growth slows as clients slash costs

Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:29pm EDT

(Reuters) - Financial information provider FactSet Research Systems Inc (FDS.N) reported its slowest revenue growth in eight quarters and provided a forecast for the current quarter that fell short of expectations as the banking industry continues to cut costs.

The company's shares fall as much as 6 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

FactSet and its rivals are under pressure as their biggest customers cut staff to cope with the euro-zone crisis and a crackdown on trading for their own accounts.

The company, which provides data to portfolio managers, research analysts and investment bankers, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $207.7 million, up 8.2 percent from a year earlier.

"For a company that has historically delivered double-digit revenue growth, single-digit growth has disappointed investors," Morningstar Inc analyst Swami Shanmugasundaram told Reuters.

The company's annual subscription value (ASV), which indicates revenue potential for the next 12 months from subscription services, fell for the fourth straight quarter.

FactSet's rival Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.N) (TRI.TO), the owner of Reuters News, said in July that conditions in Europe deteriorated more than anticipated and that it expects sales to financial institutions to continue declining for the rest of this year.

FactSet, which gets most of its revenue from buy and sell-side clients who subscribe to its workstations and content, has taken a hit from the latest wave of job cuts in the financial sector.

Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) are among big financial firms that cut spending and jobs.

Still, FactSet said it added 57 net customers and 1,100 users in the fourth quarter.

"If you look at the last quarter, they added 11 clients, but they had 1,100 users ... the growth in the number of users is almost steady," Morningstar's Shanmugasundaram said.

The company forecast first-quarter earnings of $1.10 to $1.12 per share on revenue of $210 million to $213 million.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $1.11 per share on revenue of $212.60 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

FactSet reported fourth-quarter profit of $48.5 million, or $1.08 per share, above expectations of $1.06 per share.

The company's shares, which touched an intra-day low of $97.11, were trading down 2 percent at $98.02 in afternoon trade on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Neha Alawadhi in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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