The results from HCL, India's fourth-largest software exporter by sales, come against the backdrop of the continuing debt crisis in Europe and an uncertain economic climate in the U.S.--the two largest markets for Indian outsourcing and software companies.
Infosys, India's second-largest software exporter, last week dented investor sentiment by reporting a muted quarterly performance and by cutting its estimate on sales in dollar terms for the fiscal year through March. Sector leader Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. is due to post its October-December results after the market closes Tuesday.
HCL Chief Executive Vineet Nayar said clients made a number of decisions on technology spending in the just-ended quarter, despite the economic uncertainty. HCL signed 18 large contracts with a total value of more than $1 billion in the past quarter, he added.
Based on U.S. accounting standards, HCL posted a consolidated net profit of INR5.73 billion for the October-December period, its fiscal second quarter, compared with INR4.00 billion a year earlier.
Consolidated sales climbed more than 35% to INR52.45 billion.
Sequentially, its net profit grew more than 15% and sales rose 13%. HCL's business volume grew 3.7% sequentially in the just-ended quarter, compared with 3.1% at Infosys.
The average of estimates in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of 24 analysts was for a net profit of INR5.52 billion on revenue of INR52.39 billion.
HCL shares touched a one-month high of INR432.25 after the results. At 0853 GMT, the shares were 5.2% higher at IN427.10 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, outpacing the benchmark Sensitive Index's 1.8% gain.
"HCL Technologies posted a good set of numbers with various robust operational metrics," Credit Suisse wrote in a note to clients. This is "good news" for the stock and should also assuage, to some extent, concerns for the sector, post Infosys's earnings, the brokerage said.
HCL's earnings margin before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization expanded to 18.5% from 17.1% in the previous three months, aided by a near 11% average fall in the Indian rupee against the U.S. dollar. The margin expanded from 16.3% a year earlier.
Its foreign exchange loss in the quarter widened to INR758 million from INR134 million a year earlier due to currency bets which didn't go off well. HCL's currency hedges were $1.2 billion as of Dec. 31. "We remain watchful of the volatile currency movements," Chief Financial Officer Anil Chanana said in a statement.
Kishan Bhat, Engagement Manager, Zinnov Management Consulting said, "HCL Technologies has done extremely well with 15.4% growth in consolidated net profit despite growing uncertainties about global economic growth. The fact that HCL has won 18 multi-year, multi-million dollar deals totaling a contract value of more than USD 1 billion is an indicator of a strong growth strategy by HCL. It is gradually diversifying and expanding its focus across verticals, which will prove to be a very good move in the medium and long term. HCL has entered into 57 new client relationships in the last quarter and the number of million dollar clients is increasing at a very healthy and steady pace."