'Superhero' and bellwethers who missed their guidance

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 21:32 hrs

It will be an early Christmas and New Year party for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). There are enough reasons why India’s largest information technology services company is in the mood to celebrate early — its top line numbers have been going just one way — up — over the last few quarters.

TCS obviously doesn’t want to celebrate alone. So it has invited some of India’s top analysts as well. Quite fittingly, the annual party, scheduled on December 14, has 'superhero' as its theme.

But that’s not the point. The real story begins here. In its invitation, TCS has not only applauded analysts for their heroics in an otherwise tough year but has also praised them for keeping their sanity when the “industry bellwethers missed their guidance” repeatedly.

"We know it's been a brutal year for you. Europe teetered on the brink. The rupee went into a free fall. FII inflows dried up. At times, it looked like the skies were falling, especially when beloved bellwethers missed their guidance, again and again," the invite, a copy of which is available with Business Standard, read.

"But through it all, you kept your faith, your sanity (largely) and more importantly your job. So as the year draws to a close, it's time to celebrate your super-heroism," it added.

Tongues have already started wagging about the veiled potshot at industry bellwethers who missed their guidance. Though TCS may not have taken into account the import of the words, the fact is Infosys, which has often been described as the bellwether of Indian information technology industry, has in the recent past faltered on its guidance. Other than missing its own guidance, Infosys has missed street expectations in the six of the last seven quarters. The company over the last two quarters has also stopped providing for quarterly revenue guidance.

The party will be held at the TCS House. When contacted, a company spokesperson said "This text was not part of the official party invitation, but the content of a private letter sent to select analysts for the same event. It was meant in a lighter vein and should not be discussed out of context."

The Infosys growth story is in contradiction to peers like TCS and HCL Technologies, both of which have managed to show strong growth despite adverse macro conditions. Especially when one looks at the dollar revenue guidance of five per cent provided by Infosys for FY13.

TCS on the other hand over the last six to seven quarters has not only increased its topline numbers but also reduced the margin gap with Infosys. Infosys' Ebitda margin has fallen continuously for the past four quarters from 33.7 per cent in the December 2011 quarter to 29.1 per cent in the September quarter. TCS though has has managed to keep it in the range of 28 per cent to 29 per cent.

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