* Q4 EPS $0.71 vs est. $0.38
* Revenue up 3 pct, expenses down 3 pct
* Sees weak rev for 2010
* Forecast weak Q1
* Shares down 9 pct
(Recasts; adds details from conference call, updates share
Feb 23 Huron Consulting Group Inc (HURN.O)
posted fourth-quarter profit that beat market estimates, but a
tepid full-year revenue forecast dragged its shares down by as
much as 9 percent.
The company, which is planning to divest its operations in
Japan by the first half of 2010, expects revenue of $600
million to $640 million for the year, significantly below
analysts' expectations of $669 million.
"2010 will be a challenging year for many consulting firms,
and Huron is no exception," Chief Executive James Roth said in
The company said it continues to experience weak demand in
its higher education and legal operational consulting
"We have sensed it is difficult for our clients to make
decisions regarding consulting spend given uncertainties over
the economy," a top company executive said on a post earnings
call with analysts.
For the latest fourth quarter, the consulting firm posted a
profit of $14.4 million, or 71 cents a share, compared with
$3.5 million, or 17 cents a share, a year ago. On an adjusted
basis, earnings were $1.03 per share.
Revenue rose 3 percent to $157.1 million, propped up by
legal consulting segment, which posted a 14 percent rise in
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 38 cents per
share, on revenue of $159.0 million, according to Thomson
For the current year, the company expects earnings of $2 to
$2.20 a share. Analysts were looking for earnings of $1.93 per
Huron competes with companies like FTI Consulting Inc
(FCN.N), Navigant Consulting Inc (NCI.N) and private players
like Ernst & Young [ERNY.UL] and PricewaterhouseCoopers
Last July, Huron was in the news for a major accounting
scandal, forcing the top management to quit the firm. The
company also had to restate earnings of past years because of
misreported costs related to acquisitions.
Shares of the Chicago-based company were trading down 9
percent at $22.69 in morning trade on Nasdaq. The shares traded
above $50 before the accounting scandal broke out, but fell as
low as $11.30 last August.
(Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar
Warrier and Anil D'Silva)