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.
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.
To that end, Accenture's decision to acquire Reactive shows that it's paying attention to what its customers want. At the same time, it keeps it one step ahead of IBM and Cognizant in how their products and services are differentiated.
Accenture didn't stop there.
The company recently teamed up with Microsoft (MSFT) to produce a hybrid cloud bundle, which is due out in 2015. This product will allow businesses to manage portions of their own private clouds, while at the same time outsourcing other parts of their resources to specialized entities. This is a win-win situation for both Microsoft and Accenture, which have had a relationship since 2000.
For Accenture, however, this deal will help it expand its global footprint and its customer base. And equally important, the alliance with Microsoft will help Accenture achieve higher user satisfaction ratings with its customers, especially the ones who crave simpler and more cost-effective solutions that can scale hardware and software they already have in-house.
All told, teaming up with Microsoft and buying Reactive Media were smart moves. And if Accenture can execute on its digital strategy, investors can expect to see a significant boost in the company's growth prospects for 2015. It all starts Thursday when the company reports fiscal first-quarter results. But the best time to buy the shares is now, when the market still has yet to figure out what the company is trying to do.
At the time of publication, the author held no stock in any of the companies mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.