Morningstar reported it earned $20.8 million in the third quarter, or 41 cents a diluted share, a 7.5% decrease from the $22.5 million, or 45 cents a diluted share, it earned in the third quarter of 2009.

Revenues, however, increased 16.4% to $139.8 million from the $120.1 million it earned in the third quarter of 2009. Excluding acquisitions and the impact of foreign currency translations, however, revenue growth came in substantially lower, at 6.6%.

For the first nine months of 2009, net income fell 13.2% to $59 million, or $1.16 per diluted share, from $69 million, or $1.37 per diluted share, in the same period of 2009. This was on revenue of $404.2 million in the first three quarters, an increase of 13.4% compared with the $356.4 million in the same period of 2009.

“Organic revenue growth continued to improve in the quarter, with positive trends across most product lines,” said Morningstar CEO and Chairman Joe Mansueto. “Licensed data, Morningstar Direct and advertising sales on Morningstar.com were the main contributors. Our Investment Management business also had a good quarter, resulting from strong market performance as well as new business wins.”

Other highlights, Mansueto added, included ETF research and the inclusion of Morningstar ETF evaluations on TD Ameritrade’s new ETF Market Center. In addition, Morningstar signed its first major financial services firm to provide credit ratings and research to its 18,000 advisers.

Morningstar is also initiating a regular quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents a share starting in January and a $100 million share repurchase program. “We have a strong balance sheet and we’ve consistently generated healthy cash flow, even after using cash for acquisitions,” Mansueto said.

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