With corporations across the globe keeping a strict eye on costs, IT provider and outsourcer Wipro
First, let's bring up the numbers. Year over year, revenue and net income increased 5% and 13%, respectively. Also, the IT services segment -- an outsize piece of the financial pie, at 94% of quarterly operating income -- managed to eke out revenue growth on a constant currency basis. Finally, in a sure sign that CEOs and CFOs the world over are feeling less panicked, volume decline leveled off dramatically compared to the previous quarter.
Looking ahead, the company expects a modest increase in the current quarter's IT-services business. That'd certainly be nice, but I'm leery that management may be overly optimistic. An outlook that includes "emerging signs of stability in the macro environment" and "the first signs of the stability [in IT spending]" seems somewhat out of whack with the more conservative views recently emphasized by top brass at Infosys and Tata.
Wipro's comparatively upbeat mood, of course, could legitimately spring from differences in its business mix and end-market exposure. The global recession will likely spur more companies to employ business process outsourcing -- moving non-mission-critical operations to cheaper, offshore locations. To Wipro's benefit, it derives a slightly greater percentage of its revenue from BPO than both of its Indian competitors. Also, the company is less exposed to the ailing financial-services industry.
The final feature of Wipro's recession-resistant profile can be found in its consulting business. Paying up for consulting services might seem like a staple of smart business practice during boom times, but recessions can reveal a discretionary component to such outlays, particularly as the projects requiring expert third-party insight get delayed or canceled. Fortunately for Wipro and its shareholders, consulting represents a tiny 2% of overall revenue.
All in all, the company sounds like the safest of the major Indian IT players. That said, Fools shouldn't necessarily consider it the most conservative place to score potential gains. At a forward P/E of 25, the stock is trading at what could easily be twice its earnings growth. Indeed, it may be a disappointingly long stretch before any of the Indian IT companies return to their historical growth rates.
In the meantime, if the market tires of awarding such generous valuations, the low-double-digit multiples of global powerhouses IBM
While Wipro the company is neither whipped, spanked, nor beaten, don't assume that the stock -- at current levels -- won't give investors a nasty lashing.
Consult these other Foolish sources:
- Big Blue's Pink Slip Party Turns Green
- Fool Tech Panel: Is This Week's Rally Overdone?
- VMware Is Hiring While IBM Is Firing