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Accenture Cautions on 2003 Business Climate

Citing what it called "an unstable economic and geopolitical climate," the giant tech consulting firm Accenture warned about the business outlook for 2003 while simultaneously saying its first fiscal quarter results will beat estimates.

Bermuda-based Accenture said it expects earnings per share for its first fiscal quarter ending Nov. 30, 2002 to come in at 27 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates by 3 cents.

But looking forward, the management consulting and technology services company remains cautious, anticipating earnings for the second quarter ending Feb. 28 2003 to be in the range of 21 to 25 cents a share as net revenues decline 1 to 6 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

That is not particularly encouraging news for those looking for a tech turnaround in 2003 and the company's stock was down almost 3 percent at mid-morning.

However, the first quarter remained a bright spot for Accenture as it expects revenues to be in the range of $2.90 billion to $2.95 billion, slightly exceeding the analysts' current consensus estimate of $2.87 billion.

For all of fiscal 2003, Accenture continues to target earnings per share of $1.05 and net revenue growth of 0 to 2 percent over fiscal 2002 net revenues.

With more than 75,000 employees in 47 countries, the company, formerly Andersen Consulting, generated net revenues of $11.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2002.