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Accenture 1Q Profit Climbs 18% On Broad Revenue Growth

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Accenture PLC's (ACN) fiscal first-quarter earnings rose 18%, continuing a streak of better-than-expected results, as each of the consulting and outsourcing company's five business segments reported double-digit revenue growth. Revenue has continued to climb for Accenture, one of the world's biggest stand-alone consulting companies, as its biggest business segments benefit from swelling demand and market-share gains. An uncertain economic outlook has not stopped most businesses from spending heavily on Accenture's services, which range from traditional business consulting to information-technology outsourcing. New bookings reached $7.8 billion, up from $6.3 billion a year earlier but down from the previous quarter's record $8.4 billion. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, Accenture reported a profit of $711.8 million, up from $534.7 million a year earlier. On a per-share basis, which includes some non-controlling interests, earnings rose to 96 cents from 81 cents, topping analysts' average 94-cent projection. Revenue grew 17% to $7.59 billion. Net revenue, which excludes reimbursements, also rose 17%, to $7.07 billion, coming in above the company's September forecast, which called for $6.8 billion to $7 billion. Operating margin edged up to 13.9% from 13.7%. Accenture's products arm--which includes automotive, consumer goods and services--posted a 20% sales increase, as did its communications, media and technology group. The financial services segment reported 14% revenue growth. Geographically, revenue jumped 28% in the Asia Pacific region and 17% in the Americas. It rose 14% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Accenture also lowered its full-year earnings forecast by 4 cents to between $3.76 and $3.84 a share, an adjustment that reflected revised expectations for the effect of foreign-exchange rates. For the second quarter, the company forecast a net revenue result between $6.5 billion and $6.8 billion, assuming a negative foreign-exchange impact of about 1%. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting $6.59 billion. Shares fell 53 cents to $55.60 after hours Thursday. The stock has climbed 16% this year. -By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909;

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