One of my favorite markets to study is information technology services -- a sector that includes any professional-services firm that specializes in developing or managing technology for a business. Often, IT services are referred to as outsourcing, and globally it makes up a $400 billion market.
The heavies in the industry are well-known: IBM
Long known as the yin to InfoSys' yang, Wipro is the Indian services firm that often gets left out of the spotlight. But it deserves your attention, Fool. That's because Wipro has more than doubled sales and income over the past three fiscal years and has delivered generous gains to shareholders in the process.
I expect the growth to continue. Here's why: Wipro has an appetite for deals -- $200 million worth at last count, according to business site Red Herring -- and acquisitions are one of the few ways to staff up with experts in the IT services business. It's impossible to grow quickly otherwise. Apparently, Wipro wants to keep up the pace: On Monday, the firm added to its portfolio by spending $20 million for cMango, which the Herring says specializes in infrastructure management. (For the tech-illiterate, that's like having a maid for your computers.)
What's more, the Indian government is urging InfoSys, Wipro, and smaller firms like them to acquire 50% of the global IT services market by 2010. Do the math, Fool. That's $200 billion, all served through India. I mean, wow. And if there's any possibility of that actually happening -- IBM, Accenture, and pretty much everyone else in the consulting industry had better take notice. Investors, too.
No, I'm not suggesting that Wipro will grab the lion's share of that total. It's just that it screams "opportunity." Think about it -- $200 billion is a huge pie, a small slice of which would mean a lot to a company that does $2.2 billion in revenue, like Wipro.
Surely, critics will point out that the shares are expensive. And they might have something to say for it. Wipro trades for more than 34 times expected earnings as I write.
Instead, you might do better asking this question: Will I look back 10 years from now and marvel at how cheap this stock really was? Maybe not. We've no crystal ball capable of perfectly forecasting growth, competitive response, and the emergence of new industry participants, all of which could dampen Wipro's hopes. But with plenty of free cash flow, an appetite for accretive acquisitions, and an expansive mandate from its home government . well, I wouldn't bet against it.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers likes both Indian companies and Indian food. But -- sigh -- he didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile . The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy .