June 22, 2017 / 11:47 AM / in a month

Accenture trims revenue forecast amid US healthcare uncertainty

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FILE PHOTO: Visitors look at devices at Accenture stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26, 2013.Albert Gea/File Photo

(Reuters) - Accenture Plc (ACN.N) trimmed its annual revenue forecast on Thursday, triggering concerns that uncertainty around U.S. healthcare policy may be weighing on the company's flagship consulting business.

Shares of the Dublin-domiciled company, which also provides outsourcing services, were down 4.7 percent at $121.17 in morning trading. The stock earlier fell to its lowest level in nearly two months.

Accenture, which gets 17.5 percent of its revenue from healthcare and public service clients, said its North American business was hurt by slower-than-expected spending by these customers due to uncertainty around U.S. healthcare legislation.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to replace Obamacare, and Republican leaders unveiled a draft healthcare bill on Thursday.

Accenture said it now expects net revenue to rise 6 percent to 7 percent for the year ending August, compared with an earlier forecast for a 6 percent to 8 percent increase.

"The lower revenue guidance highlights concerns that their legacy consulting business is deteriorating," Edward Jones analyst Josh Olson said, adding that the business was slowing at a faster rate than Accenture's shift to digital, cloud and security services.

Accenture's revenue forecast overshadowed a better-than-expected net revenue for the third quarter ended May 31.

Revenue rose 5.1 percent to $8.87 billion in the quarter, as the company benefited from investments to boost its digital and cloud services. Analysts on average had expected $8.83 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Accenture, like other IT services providers, has beefed up its security, cloud and analytics services to meet burgeoning demand from businesses for digital services.

The company has invested heavily on acquisitions to boost these services, which now make up about half its total revenue. Accenture expects to spend about $1.8 billion in acquisitions this fiscal year.

Accenture also raised its forecast for full-year profit, citing a lower-than-anticipated impact from a strong dollar. The company now expects adjusted earnings per share of $5.84 to $5.91, compared with a prior forecast of $5.70 to $5.87.

Net income attributable to Accenture fell to $669.5 million or $1.05 per share in the third quarter, from $897.2 million or $1.41 per share, a year earlier.

The company took a pre-tax pension settlement charge of $510 million in the quarter related to the termination of its U.S. pension plan.

Excluding one-time items, Accenture earned $1.52 per share, in line with analysts' expectations.

Including Thursday's losses, Accenture's shares are up 3.4 percent so far this year.

Reporting by Rishika Sadam in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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