LONDON (AP) _ Glen Renfrew, who guided Reuters through a decade of meteoric profit growth, will step down as chief executive in March, the news and financial information company announced Thursday.

He will be replaced by Peter Job, a 49-year-old Reuters veteran who started as a journalist before moving up the management ladder to his current post as managing director for Reuters in Asia.

The announcement comes during a bumpy but still profitable year for Reuters which, in Renfrew's words, included a ''high number'' of cancellations of the company's financial services.

Reuters, based in London, compiles and distributes news and financial information for financial markets, businesses, news agencies, newspapers and broadcast outlets.

Just three weeks ago, the publicly owned company said it would cut 300 jobs from its work force of 10,500 and delay the launch of a new automatic foreign exchange dealing system because of unsettled market conditions.

Reuters chairman Sir Christopher Hogg told a news conference that the decision to change chief executives had nothing to do with the company's performance this year. The agency said it still would have record pre-tax profits of about $627 million, even after absorbing severance pay worth $19.6 million.

Hogg said Renfrew, 62, had informed the board 15 months ago of his decision to retire after a successor had been picked.

''The whole process has been a planned one,'' said Hogg, who paid tribute to Renfrew for leading Reuters through ''a period of quite outstanding growth and prosperity'' as chief executive and managing director.

Hogg said Renfrew had already stayed two years beyond the normal pensionable age for senior Reuters executives. Mandatory retirement is at 65.

Neil Blackley, a media analyst at the brokerage James Capel and Co., also said it would be wrong to link Reuters' recent difficulties with Renfrew's departure next March.

''He had a decade of meteoric profit growth but the last nine months have been difficult,'' Blackley said. ''It's a shame he has to end on that note.''

Blackley said he was pleased with the appointment of Job, whom he described as ''very talented.''

Job, a graduate of Oxford University, served as a foreign correspondent and news executive in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Britain and Latin America before moving into business management in 1974. He has been head of Reuters Asia since 1988.

Renfrew, an Australian, joined Reuters in London in 1952 after graduating from Sydney University. He was in charge of Reuters' North American operations from 1971 until his promotion to chief executive in 1981.

When he took over as CEO, Reuters was owned by a publishers' association representing newspapers in Britian, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. It had 2,700 employees then.

Renfrew guided Reuters through a complicated transformation into a public company, Reuters Holdings PLC, in 1984. In the past five years, pre-tax profits have risen steadily, with each year setting a new record: from 93.6 million pounds in 1985 to 283.1 million pounds in 1989.

Renfrew sold 20 percent of his personal holdings in the company last August for about $3.37 million, when the stock traded at $16 a share. That left him with 849,378 shares, worth $10.55 million at Thursday's close.