Earnings season: How public firms have fared in 2011

by Vault Consulting Editors | May 04, 2011

The past week has seen a number of publically-traded consultancies publish their Q1 2011 financial results, presenting to shareholders the promising (for some) and the ominous (for others) details of each company's performance in the new year. Though less than halfway through fiscal 2011, each of these major players will look to their Q1 performances as indicative of what the rest of the year might hold.

A sampling of Q1's noteworthy results:

Navigant Consulting: After a tough 2010, the Chicago-based strategy outfit beat Wall Street estimates to claim major growth in profits this quarter. Net income rose 36 percent from Q1 2010 to $8.8 million; that figure dwarfed the paltry $560,000 the firm earned last quarter. Overall revenue was up 8.8 percent from Q1 2010, driven in large part by a 20 percent revenue increase by the business consulting segment. These are positive signs for a firm that ended 2010 with roughly $200 million in debt. Last year, the firm resembled something of a revolving door, with consultants leaving and getting laid off and replacements filing in via acquisitions. The extent to which Navigant's rebound can stick remains to be seen, but early reports are positive. (Navigant Q1)

Cognizant: More than 100,000 people now work for the Jersey-based, India-centered IT consultancy (more than 7,000 hired in Q1 alone), and early financial results suggest that they're doing something right. Revenue surged 43 percent from Q1 2010 to hit $1.37 billion, which also represented a 5 percent uptick from Q4 2010. This impressive revenue growth prompted the firm to improve its already-positive outlook for 2011, suggesting that overall revenue in 2011 would beat that of 2010 by almost 30 percent. The Wall Street Journal had a word of warning for prospective investors, though, citing Cognizant's "history of easily surpassing its guidance" as a reason to temper enthusiasm for the firm's expectation-beating performance thus far. (Cognizant Q1)

Marsh & McLennan (Mercer, Oliver Wyman): The consulting segment continued to drive Marsh & McLennan revenue higher in 2011. At 9 percent, overall revenue growth reflected similar gains by the firm's prize consulting assets, Mercer and Oliver Wyman (9 and 11 percent growth, respectively). President and CEO Brian Duperreault described Mercer's "continued fine performance" and Oliver Wyman's "impressive revenue growth" as key to the organization's early year success. (Marsh & McLennan Q1)

FTI Consulting: FTI made a profit of nearly $22 million in Q1, a considerable increase from the $14 million it made in Q1 2010, but below analyst predictions for the quarter. The relatively low income figures were largely a result of a 9 percent decline in revenue from FTI's corporate finance and restructuring segment, which Reuters described as FTI's "largest contributor to revenue." Despite these disappointments, the firm actually raised its full year revenue forecast; in fact, this quarter's $362 million haul was a company record. At the center of these seemingly conflicting results is the recent acquisition of practice groups from LECG; that move may have hurt overall income for now, the company suggested, but would provide a big revenue boost later this year. Whether or not the LECG units can come good remains to be seen. (FTI Q1)

Charles River Associates: Another firm looking to rebound from a tough stretch is Charles River Associates, which released its Q1 results last week. The results were mixed, largely due to "restructuring actions" the firm has taken of late, including a shift in fiscal year dates that rendered Q1 2011 a week longer than Q1 2010. For much of 2010, including Q4 when the company lost about $600,000, CRA lost money. That trend has been reversed somewhat emphatically in 2011, with the company claiming $4.4 million this quarter. But the firm's leadership isn't ready to anoint 2011 as the year in which it reclaimed past glories, instead presenting an image of cautious optimism. (CRA Q1)

LECG: One firm that failed to release its financial results was LECG, which instead named an outside "restructuring" (read: bankruptcy) advisor as CEO and delisted from Nasdaq. After riding out months of sub-$1 trading prices and the slow exodus of all its practice groups and partners, LECG has ceased to exist as a public company. In many respects, this represents the formal end of LECG. (LECG Statement)

Also of note: Aon flying high with Hewitt

For more information:
WSJ
Reuters

Filed Under: Consulting


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