Enterprise IT consulting specialist Infosys (INFY - Get Report) will report third-quarter fiscal 2016 earnings results before of the opening bell Thursday. Despite the mixed results just released from rival Accenture (ACN - Get Report) , investors would do well to consider buying Infosys shares, given their recent correction. Since hitting a 52-week high of $19.46 per share in October, Infosys stock has fallen as much as 20%. Investors who sold based on our recommendation prior to the decline likely preserved their profits. Now it's time to look ahead.
Since the decline, which bottomed out in mid-November, Infosys -- India's second-largest enterprise consulting company -- has secured several large contracts at a rate that suggests it's not losing ground to its competitors as once feared. And thanks to its growing position in Oracle's (ORCL - Get Report) Application Management Network, as recognized by Gartner, Infosys is poised to land multiple additional contracts in 2016.
At the same time, thanks to its diligent costs controls and low-overhead business model, Infosys has a solid balance sheet that includes some $4.6 billion in cash and zero debt. Add in its $1.4 billion in operating cash flow, and Infosys would make a solid acquisition target for a company like IBM (IBM - Get Report) , which is in desperate need of growth -- especially in light of Infosys' recent stock correction. But assuming it reports a solid quarter Thursday, its price tag will begin to climb.
For the quarter that ended in December, analysts' average earnings estimate is for 23 cents a share on revenue of $2.37 billion, translating to flat EPS growth and a 7% increase in revenues. For the full year ending in March, earnings are projected to be 89 cents a share, up from 88 cents in the prior year, while revenue of $9.37 billion would mark an increase of 7.5%.
It's true, the earnings projections aren't breathtaking, but fiscal 2017 estimates are for 97 cents a share, a 9% earnings increase. This compares favorably to 2016's projected earnings increase of only 1%. Plus, with fiscal 2017 estimates placing the stock's forward P/E in-line with the S&P 500, now's the time to buy Infosys. Purely from a risk-vs.-reward perspective, it makes sense given the recent correction and the growth outlook based on the contracts it has secured.
What's more, not only does the stock have a consensus buy rating, its average analyst 12-month price target of $19.10 suggests gains of around 18%, while a rise to its high target of $21.56 would yield 33% gains. And in either case, its 9.75-cent quarterly dividend, that yields 2.29% annually, would be a nice added bonus.