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Consulting and outsourcing services provider, Accenture (ACN - Analyst Report), is slated to release fiscal fourth-quarter 2013 results on Sep 26, 2013, after the closing bell. It is noteworthy that in the last quarter, Accenture’s earnings were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The company has a trailing four-quarter average positive surprise of 2.51%. Let us see how things are shaping up for this quarter.

Key Factors this Past Quarter

Accenture’s third-quarter bottom line matched the Zacks Consensus Estimate while the top line lagged the same. Earnings increased 10.7% from the year-ago quarter on the back of higher margins and lower share count.

The top line increased 1.0% (in U.S. $) on a year-over-year basis due to modest growth in three operating segments, the Outsourcing business and strength in the Americas which offset a soft Consulting business and Euro issues.

Moreover, Health & Public Services, Financial Services and Products generated single-digit revenue growth (5.0%, 9.0% and 1.0%, respectively). The company also witnessed strong bookings for the quarter.

Earnings Whispers?  

Increasing focus on the outsourcing business, operating cost optimization, new bookings and continued return to shareholders are expected to remain the quarter’s positives. However, the challenging macroeconomic environment and constricted spending from clients could pose headwinds for the company.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the third quarter stands at $1.00 while that for fiscal 2013 stands at $4.20. Neither of the estimates has been revised in the last 60 days.

The stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Our model states that a stock needs to have both a positive Zacks Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 to beat earnings estimates. You could, however, consider the following stocks that satisfy both criteria:

Micron Technology Inc. (MU - Analyst Report) Earnings ESP of +4.35% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

SYNNEX Corp (SNX - Snapshot Report) Earnings ESP of +1.05% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

Plexus Corp (PLXS - Analyst Report) Earnings ESP of +1.49 and Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

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