Accenture Earnings: An Early Look

Can the consulting company hold off its competition?

Dan Caplinger
Dan Caplinger
Mar 26, 2013 at 11:44AM

Earnings season is just about over, with almost all companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still a few companies left to report, and Accenture (NYSE:ACN) is about to release its quarterly earnings report. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarter reports is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed, kneejerk reaction that turns out to be exactly the wrong response to the news

Accenture emerged from the Arthur Andersen scandal relatively unscathed and has remained a giant in the consulting industry. But given the massive rush toward high-margin consulting services in a number of key sectors, especially technology, Accenture faces more competition than ever before. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Accenture over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Thursday.

Stats on Accenture

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$7.07 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Accenture accentuate the positive this quarter?
Analysts have barely budged on their views on Accenture in recent months, keeping their estimates on the just-completed quarter stable while trimming $0.02 per share off their full-year fiscal 2013 calls. The stock has done reasonably well lately, though, rising about 10% since late December.

Accenture is a predominant firm in the global consultancy industry. Its strong reputation for highly driven employees and a competitive spirit have helped it survive and adapt to vastly changing economic conditions in the industry over the years. The company has also done a good job of sharing its returns with shareholders while still keeping employees motivated and working hard.

A big reason for Accenture's success has been its ability to identify promising opportunities. Ever since India started emerging as a growing economic power, Accenture has turned to India to take advantage of its profit-making potential, with 70,000 employees in the emerging nation covering a wide variety of sectors. Moreover, the fast-growing energy industry has also benefited Accenture, as energy companies and investors turn to the consulting giant for data and expertise on all facets of the industry.

But recently, Accenture has had to deal with a huge number of competitors realizing the value in providing high-margin, low-cost services. Especially in technology, IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) have worked hard to go beyond their relatively low-margin commodity-like hardware businesses to capture a bigger share of the IT consulting market, squeezing Accenture's early-mover advantage in the space. Moreover, General Electric (NYSE:GE) has aimed squarely at the energy industry, with its expertise in nuclear, solar, wind, and other forms of energy production and infrastructure becoming an increasingly important part of its overall business.

In its quarterly report, watch for Accenture's take on its future strategy. More important than the numbers will be how Accenture sees itself beating its increasingly plentiful competition. If it can return to its roots by using its people as its biggest asset, then Accenture should continue to adapt and grow in the long run. 

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