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UPDATE 2-Huron shares fall as revenue forecast disappoints
February 23, 2010 / 1:35 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Huron shares fall as revenue forecast disappoints

* 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 movement)

Feb 23 (Reuters) - 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 a statement.

The company said it continues to experience weak demand in its higher education and legal operational consulting practices.

“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 its legal consulting segment, which posted a 14 percent rise in revenue.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 38 cents per share, on revenue of $159.0 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For the current year, the company expects earnings of $2 to $2.20 a share. Analysts were looking for earnings of $1.93 per share.

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 [PWC.UL].

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)

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