Cognizant Q1 net jumps 17%; lowers guidance for whole year

Software services firm Cognizant today posted 17 per cent rise in net profit at $243.7 million for January-March, 2012, but lowered its full-year forecast on low demand.

The company lowered its full-year revenue outlook to at least $7.34 billion, from $7.53 billion forecast earlier.

"Due to a slower than anticipated acceleration in demand, as we entered the second quarter, we are adopting a more conservative stance for the remainder of the year and revising our guidance to at least 20 per cent revenue growth for 2012," Cognizant Chief Executive Officer Francisco D'Souza said in a statement.

The US-based firm's net profit stood at $208.3 million in the first quarter of 2011.

Cognizant, the third largest software services firm in India after Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, follows a January-December fiscal. Though it is not listed in India, 75 per cent of its over 1.4 lakh employees are based in India and is often referred to as an Indian entity.

The revenue of the company grew by 24.8 per cent to $1.71 billion in the quarter under review, which was marginally lower than that of Infosys for the same quarter.

Analysts had expected Cognizant to replace Infosys as the second largest IT company in terms of revenue for the quarter with its guidance of $1.7 billion.

Infosys, which follows April-March fiscal, registered 10.5 per cent growth in revenues at $1.77 billion for the January-March quarter.

"We continue to have a healthy long-term outlook for the business. Our clients recognise that in Cognizant, they have a partner with a strong consulting oriented and industry focused front-end team," Cognizant President Gordon Coburn said.

The pecking order for the Indian IT services companies, however, may change with Cognizant at the second slot, as it has forecast a revenue outlook of "at least $1.79 billion" for the April-June quarter, higher than Infosys' muted guidance of $1.77-1.78 billion for the same period.

In the April-June quarter last year, Cognizant for the first time toppled Wipro from its spot as the third largest software exporter in India, with revenues of $1.49 billion. Wipro in the same quarter had registered revenues to the tune of $1.40 billion.

Wipro's revenues in the January-March 2012 quarter stood at $1.53 billion.

Infosys and Wipro had given muted guidance, highlighting the uncertainty software exporters are facing as clients' IT budgets are flat or negative.

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