NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Accenture (ACN) reports fiscal first-quarter 2015 results Thursday, but investors should consider some of the growth-boosting acquisitions and partnerships the company has already made for clues about what may propel the stock higher in the new year.
Research firm Forrester predicts the digital marketing market will expand to over $43 billion in the next two years -- growth Accenture will participate in thanks to a planned merger that will expand its digital ad presence. In addition, the company's partnership with Microsoft on a hybrid cloud bundle will expand Accenture's customer base and global reach.
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The information technology services industry -- particularly companies specializing in IT consulting -- has underperformed in 2014.
With year-to-date declines of 1.54%, according to research firm Morningstar, stocks in the group which includes the likes of IBM (IBM) (down 19.28%) and Cognizant (CTSH) (up 1.43%), has lagged the 6.73% gain in the S&P 500 (SPY) and the 2.97% gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) .
If you're among those who expect 2015 to be a standout year for IT services, Accenture, whose shares have only gained 0.79% in 2014, will be the one to watch out for.
One move that should bolster its position is the deal the company announced on Dec. 2, to buy Reactive Media, an Australia-based company that specializes in the delivery of differentiated customer experiences through digital channels, including apps, e-commerce web sites and social media.
From Accenture's press release, Reactive Media is described as one of Australia’s largest independent and multi-award winning digital agencies. Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, this deal gives Accenture much-needed strength in the area of digital marketing and technology services.
"Demand is growing rapidly for services that integrate creative ideas with design, usability, data-driven customer insights, and technology in order to create compelling digital customer experiences," said Brian Whipple, Accenture Interactive's senior managing director.
Likewise, Forrester predicts that by 2019, marketing leaders will spend more than $103 billion on search marketing, display advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing — more than they will on broadcast and cable television advertising combined.