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Cognizant Beats, Shares Slide on Forecast

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Cognizant (CTSH - Get Report) eased past Wall Street's earnings forecast in its fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, although the consulting specialist's shares tumbled 6.63% to $90.58 on weaker-than-expected 2014 guidance.

The Teaneck, N.J.-based firm reported fourth-quarter sales of $2.355 billion, a 20.9% hike on the prior year's quarter, and in line with Wall Street's forecast of $2.36 billion. Excluding items, Cognizant earned $1.15 a share, up from 99 cents a share in the same period last year.

For the full year, Cognizant brought in revenue of $8.843 billion, up 20.4% from 2012. Analysts surveyed by Yahoo! Finance were looking for sales of $8.84 billion.

"Our growth during 2013 was broad-based across our industries, geographies and service lines," said Gordon Coburn, Cognizant's president, in a statement released before market open. "We anticipate that the healthy demand environment we witnessed in 2013 will continue into 2014 and we are well positioned to capture it."

The company's board also declared a two-for-one stock split before market open.

For its fiscal first-quarter, Cognizant expects revenue of at least $2.42 billion, in line with Wall Street consensus estimate. Excluding items, the consulting and outsourcing specialist expects earnings of $1.18 a share, although this number is prior to the impact of the upcoming stock split. Analysts surveyed by Yahoo! Finance are looking for earnings of $1.10 a share.

For 2014, however, Cognizant predicts sales of at least $10.3 billion, up at least 16.3% compared to 2013. Wall Street had forecast revenue of $10.38 billion.

Excluding items, the company expects full year earnings of at least $5.02, prior to the stock split's impact. Analysts had predicted earnings of $4.77 a share.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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