Accenture Sees Q4 Growth, 'Stable Plus' Future Ahead


Accenture posted earnings jumps for both the fourth quarter and fiscal year, as well as record new bookings for the quarter, the consulting giant reported Thursday.

Net income for the fourth quarter came in at $727 million, a 14 percent increase over the same quarter last year due to a lower tax rate, the company said. Net income for the year was listed as $3.55 billion, compared with $2.82 billion in fiscal year 2012.

"All in all, in a market that grew less than we expected, our results continue to reflect rigor, discipline and the way we manage and drive our business. Once again we've proven our ability to adapt our business as the environment evolves and to deliver results, which overall are very much aligned to the outlook we set at the start of the year," Accenture CFO David Rowland said in the earnings call.

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The market overall has been clearly in a cycle of lower growth for the past four or five quarters, Rowland said, which has affected Accenture's earnings growth and is anticipated to continue to do so going forward. However, Rowland said, the company has continued to prove it can either equal or beat market growth and he is confident that will continue going forward. He expects first-quarter revenues to come in at $7 billion to $7.3 billion dollars, a decrease of 2 percent; however, net revenue growth for the entire year is projected to rebound and grow 2 to 6 percent.

The consulting company reported a record amount of new bookings with $33.3 billion for the full fiscal year, with $8.4 billion in new bookings for the fourth quarter. New consulting bookings saw $3.8 billion, and $4.6 billion were new outsourcing bookings.

Concerns were raised in the earnings call that the bookings represented flat growth overall. CEO Pierre Nanterme called the bookings trend "stable plus," saying it was overall stable with pockets of growth.

"We saw good expansion in our opportunity pipeline across most aspects of our business over the last 90 days during the fourth quarter and that is indicative of the level of client discussions that are taking place and the way our services and offerings are resonating in the marketplace," Rowland said in the earnings call. "We do feel good about our pipeline, and we think it's well positioned to support our revenue range next year."

Rowland said that most fourth-quarter deal growth was larger, $10 million to $50 million deals rather than smaller deals that remained relatively stable.

ERP growth was lower across the quarter, both executives said, but they did not anticipate this to be a trend going forward for sales, with Nanterme calling it the "backbone" of the Accenture business. BPO saw a large growth over the quarter compared to ERP, and Nanterme said the company will continue to invest and grow this aspect of the business.

Over the next year, Accenture said it intends to continue its acquisition strategy, planning on spending another $800 million on strategic acquisitions. The company forecast $7 billion to 7.3 billion in net revenues for the upcoming fiscal year, with earnings per share between $4.42 and $4.54.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 26, 2013