(Reuters) - TMX Group Ltd (X.TO) posted a sharp percentage rise in quarterly profit and raised its dividend for the first time since 2010 late on Thursday, as Canada's main stock exchange operator turns to execute its refreshed strategy as competitive threats loom.
The owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange said that excluding the cost of layoffs and other one-time items, it earned C$1.08 per share in the third quarter, beating the average analyst estimate of C$1.01.
"In a year of transformative change, TMX has generated increased shareholder value and we are executing on a plan to strategically realign, strengthen and position our company for enduring success," Chief Executive Lou Eccleston said in the earnings statement.
Eccleston, who came on board in late 2014, has since sought to turn TMX once disparate services into a more unified offering for its customers.
Those customers can now choose to trade on the Aequitas Neo exchange and will soon have the option to list on Nasdaq's incoming Canadian exchange, potentially limiting TMX's pricing power in a still uncertain capital markets environment.
Among the changes Eccleston has initiated are a sharper focus on data analytics products, more mutual fund industry offerings, the launch of a private equity marketplace and a cattle trading platform, and the sale of assets considered non-core, such as its Equicom communications arm.
The company, which also owns the Montreal Exchange, raised its quarterly dividend to 45 cents a share from 40, its first payout increase since the exchange operator was bought out by a group of big Canadian banks, pension funds and investment firms in 2012.
TMX said in September that it was cutting roughly 10 percent of its workforce.
TMX said its net profit attributable to shareholders rose to C$39.2 million ($29.27 million), or 72 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from C$36.5 million, or 67 cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 3 percent to C$180.3 million.
Revenue in TMX's capital formation unit - which includes the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the TSX Venture for junior issuers, and its private market - rose 3 percent in the quarter but is still down 3 percent so far this year.
TMX said it no longer controls its BOX options exchange, which has paid cash and the right to stock to liquidity providers since early 2015. When the SEC approved the practice in September last year, the accrued vesting rights started turning into stock, and by July 1 TMX had lost majority voting power on its board.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair