Accenture stock falls as outlook disappoints

NEW YORK (AP) -- Accenture's stock slipped nearly 2 percent Thursday after the consulting firm gave a second-quarter revenue estimate range that disappointed some analysts and investors.

THE SPARK: Accenture PLC said late Wednesday that it earned $1.06 per share for the three months ended Nov. 30. Net revenue, or revenue before reimbursable expenses such as travel costs paid for by clients, climbed 2.1 percent to $7.22 billion from $7.07 billion, a year earlier. Adding in those reimbursements, total revenue rose to $7.67 billion from $7.59 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.05 per share on revenue of $7.3 billion.

For the second quarter, Accenture said it anticipates net revenue in a range of $6.9 billion to $7.15 billion. Wall Street had been expecting net revenue of $7.14 billion.

THE ANALYSIS: Cowen and Co.'s Moshe Katrl said Accenture's quarterly revenue was hurt by soft European-based consulting demand.

But the analyst said that that investors should view any weakness in the stock as a buying opportunity, saying that Accenture looks well positioned into 2013 in part because it is gaining market share and maintaining strong traction with existing and new clients.

Katrl reaffirmed an "Outperform" rating.

Jason Kupferberg of Jefferies said that Accenture's first-quarter revenue performance and second-quarter revenue outlook were modestly disappointing and anticipated that it would cause a bit of a sell-off in the stock.

Still, Kupferberg said that the first-quarter was not bad for Accenture, as its operating margin and earnings beat his expectations.

The analyst kept a "Hold" rating and $66 price target.

SHARE ACTION: Accenture stock traded as low as $66 in Thursday's session, after closing Wednesday at $70.40. It closed Thursday, at $69.02, a decline of about 2 percent or $1.38 for the day. The shares have traded between $51.47 and $71.79 over the past 52 weeks.