The Associated Press March 25, 2011, 9:12AM ET

Ahead of the Bell: Accenture shares rise

Accenture Plc climbed nearly 9 percent Friday in pre-market trading, a day after the Irish management consulting firm said its second quarter earnings jumped 22 percent on strong demand for its services.

Analysts who follow the company say the need for companies like Accenture is critical to the global economic recovery.

"As we continue to make our way out of the recession, the demand for consulting capabilities has increased and is now at the heart of the economic recovery," Janney Capital Markets analyst Joseph Foresi said. "Customers are turning to consultants, viewing them as business partners who can help them cut costs and retool their businesses for the new economy."

He noted that Accenture receives 60 percent of its revenue from consulting, and this scenario is a positive for the company.

Accenture earned $557.6 million, or 75 cents per share, in the three months that ended Feb. 28. That's up from $458.2 million, or 60 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 17 percent to $6.5 billion from $5.54 billion. The results and the company's guidance surpassed Wall Street's expectations.

The company's consulting revenue grew 20 percent to $3.51 billion and outsourcing revenue climbed 13 percent to $2.54 billion.

It raised its full-year earnings guidance to a range of $3.22 to $3.30 per share from its previous range of $3.08 to $3.16 per share. Analysts expect earnings of $3.17 per share.

Foresi said Accenture's exposure to areas of potential concern like Japan and the Middle East "appears to be manageable."

Company shares climbed $4.39 to $56.35 before the market opened.


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