Updated with final after-hours prices, information on THQ.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Accenture ( ACN) rose in late trades on Thursday after the consulting services giant posted a strong fiscal second-quarter profit, lifted its outlook and declared a semi-annual cash dividend of 45 cents a share. Accenture said it earned $557.6 million, or 75 cents a share, in the latest quarter on revenue net of reimbursements of $6.05 billion. That performance was ahead of last year's equivalent profit of $458.2 million, or 60 cents a share, and topped the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for earnings of 71 cents a share in the February period on revenue of $5.74 billion.
The stock was last quoted at $54.73, up 5.3%, on volume of roughly 320,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Based on a regular session close of $51.96, the shares are up 21.3% in the past year, although they had pulled back since hitting a 52-week high of $54.55 on Feb. 17. For fiscal 2011, Accenture now sees earnings of $3.22 to $3.30 a share, up from both its previous projection of a range of $3.08 to $3.16 a share, and the current consensus view for a profit of $3.14 a share in the period. The company expects revenue to rise between 11-14% for the year vs. a prior target of 8-11%. It sees revenue for its fiscal third quarter ending in May coming in between $6.3 billion and $6.5 billion. "With quarterly bookings of $7 billion, including our second-highest consulting bookings ever, demand for our services remains strong, and our growth trajectory demonstrates that we continue to execute our business strategy extremely well," said Pierre Nanterme, the company's chief executive officer, in a statement. "We remain focused on growing market share and, as always, on delivering value to our clients as well as our shareholders." The company declared a semi-annual cash dividend of 45 cents a share for its Class A stock, payable on May 13 to shareholders of record on April 15. That payout is in line with its last dividend, which was paid on Nov. 14, 2010. Wall Street was bullish on Accenture ahead of the report with 20 of the 24 analysts covering the shares at either strong buy (10) or buy (10) and the 12-month median price target sitting at $58, implying upside of 11.5% from Thursday's close.