Accenture PLC Operating Income Climbs to $951 Million in the Second Quarter

Today Accenture (NYSE: ACN  ) reported earnings per share of $1.03 on operating income of $951 million for the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, which ended Feb. 28. After excluding accounting benefits recognized in the second quarter of last year, this represented an increase of 3% and 1%, respectively, over the comparable earnings of $1.00 per share on $940 million in operating income.

"In the second quarter, we delivered revenues within our guided range, reported solid earnings per share and returned substantial cash to shareholders," noted the CEO of Accenture, Pierre Nanterme, in the company's earnings announcement. "We continued to see very strong demand for our services, with $10.1 billion in new bookings, including record consulting and record outsourcing bookings."

Net revenues for the most recent quarter at Accenture rose 1% to $7.13 billion compared to $7.06 billion in the second quarter of 2013, but the company noted foreign-exchange effects resulted in a negative impact of 1.5%. Its consulting revenues fell 1% to $3.7 billion and its outsourcing revenues rose 4% to $3.4 billion during the quarter.

The company did note its gross margin -- its gross profit divided by revenue -- stood at 31.3% in the second quarter, which was a slight decrease from 31.6% seen last year. Accenture highlighted the reason behind this was decrease profitability from contracts, which was largely due to pressure in the pricing landscape as well as higher costs from personnel.

Accenture repurchased almost $750 million in common shares in the second quarter, raising its buybacks to nearly $1.5 billion through the first half of the 2014 fiscal year.

The company said it would be raising its earnings per share guidance from $4.44 to $4.56 for the full year to $4.50 to $4.62, and highlighted it expects to return $3.7 billion to shareholders in fiscal 2014 in the form of share buybacks and dividends.

Nanterme concluded his prepared remarks by saying; "Looking ahead, we are well-positioned to deliver our business outlook for the year, given our outstanding year-to-date bookings of $18.8 billion as well as the activity and client interest we see in the marketplace. We remain focused on the successful execution of our growth strategy, and are confident in our ability to deliver value to our clients and our shareholders."

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