Better late than never, or so they say. Computer Sciences Corporation (NYSE:CSC) had to push back its first-quarter report from the original Aug. 13 deadline to a now undisclosed time. Is it going to be worth the wait? Let's find out.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Fourteen analysts cover Computer Sciences. Two of them are buyers, three want to sell, and the other nine have a neutral hold rating on the stock. Our own Motley Fool CAPS investor community gives the company an uninspiring two-star rating, based on 84 users' input.
  • Revenue. A 5.2% annual increase to $3.74 billion would suffice for the average analyst. That's at the midpoint of management guidance, which ranges from $3.7 billion to $3.8 billion.
  • Earnings. Again, Wall Street stays well within the official guidance range with a $0.71-per-share expectation. The company says to expect $0.65 to $0.75 per share, up from $0.61 per share last year.

What management doesn't say:
IT outsourcing and infrastructure services is a tough market to follow. In its latest 10-K statement, Computer Sciences didn't list any competitors, because the markets in which the company competes "are not dominated by a single company or a small number of companies. A substantial number of companies offer services that overlap and are competitive with those offered by the Company."

Other businesses do list CSC as a competitor, including CAPS five-star operations like Cognizant (NASDAQ:CTSH) and Honeywell (NYSE:HON), as well as four-star Inside Value recommendation SAIC (NYSE:SAI). I'm willing to bet that CSC runs into other consulting heavyweights like IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Accenture (NYSE:ACN) around the deal-making tables from time to time, too.

What management does:
Gross and operating margins are inching upward, but cash flow is spotty and GAAP income has been on a massive bounce over the last year. The $0.61-per-share profit a year ago was heavily adjusted -- GAAP income came in negative for that period.

And that revenue growth guidance looks optimistic when compared to recent history, even though it barely beats inflation and includes a couple of acquisitions. Organic growth isn't the name of the game here, folks.

Margin

12/2005

3/2006

6/2006

9/2006

12/2006

3/2007

Gross

19.7%

19.9%

20%

20.1%

20.1%

20.5%

Operating

6.6%

6.6%

6.7%

6.9%

6.9%

7.5%

Net

5.7%

3.6%

3.1%

3%

2.5%

2.6%

FCF/Revenue

6.3%

4.9%

3.7%

4.4%

3.6%

6%

Growth (YOY)

12/2005

3/2006

6/2006

9/2006

12/2006

3/2007

Revenue

6.7%

4%

1.7%

0.7%

0.5%

1.5%

Earnings*

6.7%

6%

(19.4%)

(17.9%

(31%)

(17.5%)

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.
Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.
*Earnings from continuing operations
.

One Fool says:
Computer Sciences delayed this filing to complete a work-up of some new SEC accounting rules, namely FASB Interpretation No. 48, "Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes -- an interpretation of FASB Statement No. 109."

Interpreting an interpretation of an interpretation ... No wonder it took some extra time. Not only that, but the company had to apply these rules to the last six years of financial statements after a lengthy review of stock-option grants. The corrections reduced earnings by a total of $112.9 million for the past two years, or $0.60 per share.

That's all in the past now, though. Back to the future!

Computer Sciences does plenty of business with the government, and it expects $44 billion of governmental orders over the next seven quarters. That's a 35% increase in the order backlog, which begs the question of how total revenues can be so flat. CSC's acquisitive habits just add to the mystery.

It's true that the company also sells off business units from time to time, but the buys are typically larger than the sales here. I can't say that the outlook for this quarter excites me, and there are just so many other options available for the intrepid IT investor. Let's see if the report can change my mind.

Further related Foolishness:

Accenture and SAIC are two of our Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. See where the deep value lies with a free 30-day trial pass to Philip Durell's bargain-hunting newsletter service.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is the prognosticator of prognosticators.