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Infosys sticks to growth targets, sends shares up 7 pct

Shares in software services exporter Infosys rose almost 7 percent on Friday after it surprised investors by sticking to its full-year sales target, thanks to healthy demand that helped offset the impact of a stronger dollar.

Infosys, which posted a 13 percent rise in third-quarter profit, confirmed it expects sales growth of 7 to 9 percent for the year ending in March 2015, in constant currency terms and based on exchange rates for the September quarter.

Analysts said the rate at which it was adding new clients, 59 in the quarter, meant the company should hit that target.

"It was quite a positive quarter for the company, in what is traditionally a lull ... That really tells us that the deal pipeline is strong. That was quite a surprise," said Ankita Somani, tech analyst with MSFL Research.

Chief Executive Vishal Sikka, who was brought in last year to chart a new strategy.

Under Sikka, the company, once a trendsetter for India's more than $100 billion IT outsourcing industry, has made a push for new age technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, which the CEO has said will help Infosys hit annual revenue growth rates of 15-18 percent over time.

On Friday, Infosys said it was also using its workforce more efficiently, with a utilization rate of 82.7 percent excluding trainees, its highest in 11 years.

Attrition, or the number of people leaving or retiring, fell in absolute terms to 8,900 employees in the third quarter from 10,100 in the quarter before.

IT companies depend on huge numbers of engineers to work on different projects. Significant departures hurt their ability to get new business.

For the third quarter, the company, which provides IT services to clients including Apple, Wal-mart Stores and Volkswagen, posted a quarterly profit of 32.50 billion Indian rupees ($520.9 million).

Revenue in the period rose 5.9 percent to 137.96 billion rupees.

Shares of the Bengaluru-based company closed up 5 percent at 2074.45 rupees.