Capgemini reports profit leap, strong gains in Asia

Computer services consultancy Capgemini raised net profit by nearly a third in the first half of the year despite a fall in sales because of tough trading times in Europe, it reported on Thursday.

However, the company, a leader in its field, said business in Asia rose strongly and it held to its annual targets.

Net profit rose by 31.0 percent from the equivalent figure last year to 176 million euros ($232 million) but sales fell by 2.3 percent to 5.03 billion euros.

The company is a leader in providing information technology consultancy and business solutions.

It employs 128,000 people. Nearly half of them are employed outside France, and this part of the workforce grew by 18.0 percent in the last 12 months.

In the second quarter, activity fell by 0.4 percent after a fall of 1.7 percent in the first quarter.

This reflected the general situation of the European economy, and difficult trading conditions in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, chief executive Paul Hermelin told a telephone press conference.

But the net result in the first half enabled the group to look towards the second half with confidence despite the tense economic situation in Europe, he said.

Business in emerging markets in the Asia Pacific region had risen by 10.5 percent, and activity in the United States was recovering.

Business in North America had grown by 0.5 percent.

In Europe, business in Britain and Ireland had fallen by 2.2 percent.

In France, the group's biggest market, activity had fallen by 2.2 percent but had turned positive in the second quarter when sales rose by 0.7 percent.

Hermelin said the company was optimistic that activity in France would remain positive in the second half of the year.

In the first half of the year, the group had taken orders worth 4.8 billion euros.

The price of shares in the company was showing a gain of 0.97 percent to 41.24 euros in morning trading.