Accenture (NYSE:ACN) doesn't always get its due as one of the top consulting and outsourcing companies out there -- if not the top. Then again, the company's performance doesn't always reflect that status, either. This quarter, though, seems to be just about what the doctor ordered: relatively clean, a bit ahead of expectation, and coupled with optimism for the near future.

Net revenue rose a bit more than 8% as reported, with an 11% jump in local currency terms. Once again, outsourcing was the stronger half of the story; revenue here rose 11% or 14%, depending on whether you use reported or currency-adjusted numbers, and consulting revenue was up 6% (10% adjusted). Accenture also posted a very solid new-order book, with total bookings rising 41% and outsourcing just edging out consulting for the majority share.

Operational performance takes a bit more explaining. On an adjusted basis, gross margins were flat, operating income was up about 19%, and earnings per share climbed by 32%. Growth was admittedly far less robust on a straight reported basis, though it was still positive.

I was also happy to see a lack of any really bad news this quarter. True, adjusted performance for operating income was a little spotty across the operating groups -- with communications/high-tech and financial services down and products up strongly. But there wasn't any further bad news on the company's contract with U.K. National Health Services, and Accenture's decision to assume some responsibilities from subcontractor Maximus (NYSE:MMS) on the Texas welfare deal -- in which the state is turning to private contractors to process welfare applications -- doesn't seem to presage any major troubles.

I still wonder, though, how all of these outsourcing companies are going to manage to hit their hiring targets in India. Accenture competes not only with IBM (NYSE:IBM), Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY), and Wipro (NYSE:WIT), but also with dozens -- if not hundreds -- of others. Yes, India has a lot of people and a lot of college graduates, but if you believe sources such as The Economist and Time, strong demand is already starting to push up wages and lead to shortages in certain specialized talent.

All the same, you don't find too many companies that generate the returns on capital that Accenture does, and you rarely find them trading at a double-digit discount to fair value. Given that I don't see how consulting or outsourcing goes away, that suggests to me that Accenture is at least worth serious consideration.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).