UPDATE 2-ICT Group posts lower Q4 results, warns of Q1 loss

miércoles 27 de febrero de 2008 21:37 CET

(Recasts slightly, adds conference call comments, analyst's comments, share movement)

By Dhanya Skariachan

BANGALORE Feb 27 (Reuters) - Business process outsourcing firm ICT Group Inc ICTG.O posted lower quarterly results, hurt by restructuring charges and an 18-percent fall in domestic revenue, and warned of a first-quarter loss, sending its shares down 13 percent to their lowest in three years.

The Pennsylvania-based company said it sees higher training and start-up costs related to a contract and increased expenses due to the ramp-up of its offshore facilities, mainly in Philippines, during the first quarter.

ICT, which provides outsourced customer-care services primarily to U.S.-based companies including Pfizer (PFE.N: Cotización), Washington Mutual Inc (WM.N: Cotización) and Virgin Mobile USA VM.N, also forecast 2008 results below Wall Street estimates.

"I think their guidance is below my estimates, but I expected the management to be pretty conservative because they had a tough 2007," Craig-Hallum analyst Bob Evans said.

Evans, who blamed ICT's lackluster 2007 results on some execution issues, added that the demand for the company as well as other outsourcing firms like TeleTech Holdings Inc (TTEC.O: Cotización) was increasing amidst fears of a slowdown in the U.S. economy.

ICT, which competes with offshore services providers such as Convergys Corp (CVG.N: Cotización) and TeleTech, sees a first-quarter loss of 3 cents to 7 cents a share. In a conference call, the company forecast revenue of $108 million to $112 million for the quarter.

Analysts on average were expecting ICT to post a loss of 3 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $115.0 million, according to Reuters Estimates.   Continuación...