June 24, 2010 / 8:40 PM / 7 years ago

Accenture profit beats, shares rise

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Technology outsourcing and consulting firm Accenture Plc (ACN.N) reported higher-than-expected quarterly results on Thursday as a recovering economy encouraged companies to invest again.

Accenture’s revenue for the fiscal third quarter ended May 31 rose 8 percent from a year earlier to $5.57 billion. That was above analysts’ average forecast of $5.46 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

While the company gave a cautious outlook due to a stronger U.S. dollar, the results helped the company’s shares rise 1.9 percent in after-hours trading to $38.25. They had closed down 1.6 percent at $37.55 on the New York Stock Exchange.

“The outlook was a bit lower than the Street was expecting, but a lot of this is due to currency, and investors were braced for that,” said Andrew Miedler, analyst at Edward Jones.

“Overall, I think we were pleased with the results ... There are signs of positive momentum.”

Accenture specializes in helping companies cut costs and improve operations through consulting, technology services and outsourcing.

Quarterly net income rose to $564 million, or 73 cents a share, from $537 million, or 68 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Wall Street expected profit per share of 69 cents.

Analysts said new bookings, a key indicator of future sales, appeared healthy at $6.43 billion, with a good balance between its consulting and outsourcing business.

Many also noted revenue from consulting, an area that was particularly hit during the economic downturn, rose 9 percent from a year earlier to $3.22 billion.

Those numbers helped investors look past the weaker-than-expected outlook, which was mostly due to the impact of a stronger dollar.

Accenture earns more than half of its revenue outside the Americas and is incorporated in Ireland. The dollar has risen in the past quarter against the euro on worries about the region’s sovereign debt issues.

It forecast fiscal fourth-quarter revenue of $5.15 billion to $5.35 billion, below Wall Street’s average forecast of $5.36 billion.

The company also said its full-year earnings would likely be at the lower half of its previous forecast of $2.61 to $2.69 per share.

“While there are still pockets of uncertainty in the global economy, we continue to see signs of positive momentum as clients are again looking to their future and focused on improved growth and business performance,” Chief Executive William Green told analysts on a conference call.

But some analysts said investors might want to see even stronger results before buying the shares.

“I think the business is on track, more or less. It looks like they continue to use modest, steady improvement in overall fundamentals,” said Jefferies & Co analyst Joseph Vafi, rating the shares a “hold”.

“That said, we’re still going to have to see a better acceleration.” (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; editing by Bernard Orr, Gary Hill)

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