Updated from 4:24 p.m. EST
Accenture also indicated second-quarter sales could come in slightly lighter than currently expected, but left full-year sales targets unchanged and raised earnings guidance to reflect the share repurchase.
Highlighting higher-than-expected bookings during the quarter, company executives struck a bullish tone about the future prospects of the information-technology service provider."The global demand for consulting and outsourcing is strong," CEO William D. Green said in a postclose conference call. He noted "improving market conditions in terms of demand and pricing." And, he added, "We are feeling more optimistic about pricing than we have for a very, very long time." Executives pointed out more activity in technology spending, "refreshment" of business applications and success competing against Indian off-shore outsourcing companies. Accenture said net income rose to $214.9 million, or 36 cents a share, from $196.3 million, or 32 cents a share -- and 30 cents a share on an options-adjusted basis -- a year earlier. Net revenue grew 12% from a year ago to $4.17 billion in the first quarter, which ended Nov. 30. The EPS figure beat the consensus estimate of 34 cents gathered by Thomson First Call; revenue results also exceeded analysts' average expectations of $4.1 billion. Accenture had forecast net revenue of $4 billion to $4.2 billion and earnings of 32 cents to 34 cents a share under generally accepted accounting principles. But the company's guidance did not account for 46.4 million shares that Accenture subsequently repurchased at a discount in a Dutch tender offer. Altogether, Accenture purchased 52.2 million shares at a cost of $1.15 million during the quarter, which contributed to a penny of upside to earnings per share.