SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Accenture Ltd (ACN.N: Quote, Profile, Research), a technology services company, raised its dividend on Thursday and reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue, but earnings fell from a year earlier when the company had a large tax benefit.
Accenture said its board had increased the annual dividend 20 percent to 42 cents per share. A 29 percent rise in revenue, driven by strong consulting demand, and a current-quarter sales forecast both exceeded analysts' estimates.
Shares of Accenture rose 1.3 percent in after-hours trading following the earnings report after adding 0.6 percent to close at $38.02 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Net income for the company's fiscal fourth quarter ended Aug. 31 fell to $316.8 million, or 50 cents per share, from 497.2 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.
Tax expenses rose to $253 million from $23.7 million last year, when it released reserves for expected tax payments that did not come due.
Net revenue, which excludes reimbursements from clients for expenses such as consultants' travel, advanced to $5.11 billion from $3.97 billion. Analysts had expected $4.89 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.
Accenture, based in Hamilton, Bermuda, said consulting revenue advanced 38 percent to $3.04 billion, fueled by demand for advice in industries such as oil, chemicals, mining and pharmaceuticals.
Financial services, the focus of investor concern following credit-market troubles and slowing home sales, also performed well for Accenture.
The company has not been affected by subprime loans that soured amid rising interest rates this year, hobbling some lenders, Accenture said.
Analysts, on average, were expecting fourth-quarter earnings before certain items of 48 cents per share.
The company forecast fiscal first-quarter 2008 revenue of $5.4 billion to $5.6 billion. Analysts, on average, are expecting first-quarter net revenue of $5.24 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.
For the full 2008 fiscal year, Accenture forecast net income per share of $2.21 to $2.26 and net revenue growth of 9 percent to 12 percent in local currency.
Analysts, on average, have been expecting fiscal 2008 earnings per share of $2.20 and revenue of $21.4 billion.
The board's 42-cents-per-share annual dividend is 7 cents more than the previous level.