UPDATE 2-CRA International Q1 EPS misses estimates, to cut jobs

Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:53am EDT

* Q1 adj EPS $0.04 vs est $0.27

* Revenue down 10 pct

* To eliminate 47 positions

* Shares down 30 pct (Adds conference call details, updates stock activity)

March 18 (Reuters) - CRA International Inc (CRAI.O) posted a quarterly profit much below analysts' expectations, hurt by lower client spending, and the business and legal consultancy company said it would cut 47 positions, sending its shares down as much as 30 percent.

"Clients have been reluctant to spend, thus lengthening the time to close new engagements and this has impacted all areas of our business," Chief Executive Paul Maleh said on a post-earnings call.

Though revenue at European competition group was up sequentially as well as year-over-year, the growth was not enough to make up for the declines the company experienced across a number of its larger practises, the CEO added.

For the quarter ended Feb. 19, net income was $266,000, or 2 cents a share, compared with $534,000, or 5 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding items, the company earned 4 cents a share.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $58.8 million.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings 27 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $66.9, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We are in the process of closing our Houston office and shifting certain consultants to other locations, restructuring selected practice areas and better aligning staffing levels with our revenue," Maleh said.

CRA expects a restructuring charge of between $4.9 million and $5.5 million in the second quarter and sees about $9 million in savings annually, it said.

The company said its management consulting portfolio was hampered by projects that ended during the fourth quarter and were not immediately replaced in the first quarter.

"Due to the active lead flow in management consulting and litigation ... we are anticipating higher corresponding revenue in the quarters ahead," the CEO said.

Shares of the Boston, Massachusetts-based company were down 28 percent at $20.11 Thursday morning on Nasdaq. They touched a low of $19.70 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Abhinav Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri, Unnikrishnan Nair)