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Accenture Profit Rises on Strong Demand for Consulting Services

Accenture, the fourth-largest U.S. technology consulting company, said after markets closed Thursday that quarterly profit rose as it benefited from strong demand for its consulting services.

Net income for Accenture's fiscal third quarter ended May 31 climbed to $345.4 million, or 54 cents a share, from $342.3 million, or 56 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue excluding reimbursements to clients advanced to $5.08 billion from $4.41 billion.

Shares of Accenture rose about 2% in extended trading after closing little changed at $42.83 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock was up 16% this year through Wednesday's close.

The year-earlier quarter included a $52 million restructuring benefit.

Consulting bookings, an indicator of future revenue, rose to a quarterly record of $3.5 billion in the most recently completed quarter. Outsourcing bookings were $2.72 billion.

Accenture in March had forecast third-quarter net revenue of $4.9 billion to $5.1 billion, with full-year revenue at the high end of a prior forecast of 9% to 12% growth in local currencies.

It reiterated the revenue growth projection on Thursday, and increased its full-year net income forecast to a range of $1.94 to $1.96 per share from an earlier forecast of $1.88 to $1.93 per share.

Analysts, on average, forecast third-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share and revenue of $5.01 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Chief Executive William Green said on a conference call with analysts that demand for Accenture's services remains strong as more companies hire its consultants for advice on business performance and technology services.

Accenture ranks fourth in 2006 revenue among U.S. information-technology providers, behind IBM, Electronic Data Systems and Hewlett-Packard.

For its fiscal fourth quarter ending in August, Accenture forecast net revenue of $4.8 billion to $5 billion. Analysts, on average, are expecting fourth-quarter earnings before items of 45 cents and revenue of $4.66 billion.

Accenture said Thursday it repurchased 24.1 million shares for a total of $835 million in the third quarter. Accenture's board in March approved buybacks of as much as $1.5 billion.

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