Accenture 1Q profit shrinks, but outlook brightens

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2009 5:37 PM

Global consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture PLC said Thursday its fiscal first-quarter profit fell 7 percent on weak spending by its corporate clients and forecast lower-than-expected revenue for the current quarter. But the company raised its full-year earnings outlook, citing improving momentum.

The report comes the same week that Accenture became the first major sponsor to end its association with Tiger Woods after the golf star announced an indefinite leave from the sport to work on his marriage after admitting infidelities.

The Ireland-incorporated company reported net income for the three months ended Nov. 30 of $444.8 million, or 67 cents per share. That's down from $479.9 million, or 74 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The latest quarter's profit beat the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who had expected 65 cents per share, on average.

Revenue fell 11 percent to $5.38 billion from $6.02 billion amid a recession that has forced many companies to reduce spending on consulting services. The revenue result was within the range the company had forecast, Accenture Chairman and CEO William D. Green said.

Consulting revenue fell 15 percent and outsourcing revenue dipped 4 percent.

Accenture expects net revenue for the 2010 second quarter in the range of $5.1 billion to $5.3 billion, well below analysts' $5.43 billion average estimate. But for the full fiscal year, Accenture raised its per-share profit forecast to between $2.67 and $2.75, from a range of $2.64 to $2.72 projected earlier. Analysts expect a full-year profit of $2.71, on average.

"We are seeing building momentum in key areas of our business," Green said. "Consulting bookings of $3.5 billion, growing pipelines and broadly heightened levels of activity are encouraging signs."

Accenture continues to target new bookings for fiscal 2010 in the range of $23 billion to $26 billion.

Accenture reported quarterly results after its shares dipped 18 cents to close at $41.66. In after-hours trading, the stock shed another $1, or 2.4 percent, to $40.66.