Accenture Plc, the world’s second-largest technology consulting company, reported first-quarter sales that missed analysts’ estimates as customers remained tentative on spending.
Net sales in the quarter climbed 2.1 percent to $7.22 billion. Analysts projected $7.3 billion on average. Net income for the quarter ended Nov. 30 rose to $698.8 million, or $1.06 a share, from $642.1 million, or 96 cents a share, a year earlier, the company said Wednesday in a statement. Analysts predicted $1.05 a share, the average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Clients of Accenture, which trails only International Business Machines Corp. in technology-consulting sales, are putting off investment in projects. Before making spending decisions, customers were waiting to see if Europe could recover from its debt crisis and monitoring the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and fiscal cliff negotiations.
“It’s tough in the economy we’re in to have growth be as strong as it’s been in the past,” David Koning, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., said before earnings were announced. “Companies are looking at their IT budgets and saying, ‘We can’t keep expanding it that fast.’”
Net revenue from consulting, the company’s biggest unit, fell 3 percent to $3.96 billion.
Accenture, incorporated in Dublin, fell as much as 3.8 percent to $67.75 in extended trading Wednesday. The shares have risen 32 percent this year through the close in New York.
Accenture also boosted its forecast for 2013 earnings to a range of $4.24 to $4.32 a share.
IBM, based in Armonk, New York, is scheduled to report quarterly earnings next month for the period ending in December.
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