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HCL Tech Q4 net up 24.3 pc to Rs 3,154 cr, sees short-term impact of COVID-19

IT services major HCL Technologies on Thursday posted 24.3 per cent jump in March quarter consolidated net profit at Rs 3,154 crore, and said there could be certain short-term challenges like clients deferring new projects and volume-based billing impact on account of COVID-19 pandemic.

HCL Tech Q4 net up 24.3 pc to Rs 3,154 cr, sees short-term impact of COVID-19

New Delhi

HCL Technologies, which had registered a consolidated net profit of Rs 2,550 crore in the January-March 2019 quarter as per Indian accounting norms (Ind-AS), refrained from offering a revenue growth outlook for FY'21 but expressed confidence of a strong performance in the near and long term.

IT firms like Wipro and Infosys have also suspended their practice of offering revenue growth forecast, while Cognizant had retracted its annual outlook for 2020.

HCL Tech's revenue grew 16.3 per cent to Rs 18,587 crore in the March 2020 quarter, from Rs 15,990 crore in the year-ago period.

"... there is some volume-based billing impact, there is some deferral of discretionary spend, some new project decision making is slowing down and some price discounts and maybe payment term extensions. These are the type of issues we are seeing on the demand side," HCL Technologies President and CEO C Vijayakumar told reporters.

He added that industries that have seen bigger impact of the COVID-19 pandemic include automobiles, aviation, entertainment, and non-grocery retail.

"But there are several verticals where we see the impact is very low - financial services, telecom, and professional services. Also our portfolio has certain insulated industry segments like life sciences and technology services that are fairly insulated and we are seeing some robust demand there," he said.

Vijayakumar said the company is seeing both kind of impacts - "pockets of good demand in weak verticals" and "weak demand in strong verticals" given HCL Tech's mixed portfolio mix.

"... we do not see this pandemic influencing our multi-year engagements beyond the short term, our efforts of building strong relationship with our clients, most of them are fortune 500 or global 2000 brands, with very strong and sustainable business model gives us that confidence that in the long term they're intact but in the short term there could be some challenges," he explained.

Shares of the company were trading at Rs 517.80, marginally lower than the previous close on BSE.

"HCL Tech reported in-revenue growth, while EBIT margin and net profit have beaten our estimates. Constant currency revenue grew 0.8 per cent q-o-q/13.5 per cent y-o-y, in-line with our estimates, led by strong growth in technology and services vertical," Sanjeev Hota, Head of Research at Sharekhan by BNP Paribas, said.

Vijayakumar said the company has frozen hiring in general but continues to hire for niche areas including digital, cloud cybersecurity and Internet of Things. It will also hire the 15,000 freshers to whom offer letters had been rolled out. However, no decision has been taken on wage hikes as the company follows the July cycle.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses globally with many governments imposing lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

This forced most companies, including IT services firms, to ask employees to work from home. In India, certain relaxations have been allowed to bring a section of people back at work while following strict safety and health protocols.

"We believe this return needs to be very well-calibrated. We do not foresee more than 10 per cent of our employees coming into offices by the end of this quarter, and we will keep evaluating it and see how to react to the situation. And we are seeing significant increase in productivity in the work-from-home operating model," he said.

Vijayakumar added that the company would re-evaluate to see if this arrangement will work out in a non-lockdown scenario, and if customers will agree to it.

"How will the privacy and security aspects play out is something we have to see. So I think it's going to take some time to really determine what the long-term operating model will be, but directionally, I see in 12 to 18 months, 50 per cent of employees would work from home and 50 per cent will work from offices and this will be in some kind of rotation model," he said.

For FY'20, HCL Tech's net profit increased 9.3 per cent to Rs 11,057 crore, while revenue grew about 17 per cent to Rs 70,676 crore from the previous financial year. Its revenue growth in constant currency was at 16.7 per cent - in line with its outlook for 16.5-17 per cent growth.

In US GAAP terms, HCL Tech's consolidated net profit in March quarter grew 22.8 per cent to Rs 3,154 crore, while revenue rose 16.3 per cent to Rs 18,590 crore from the year-ago period.

For FY'20, HCL Tech's consolidated net profit increased 9.3 per cent to Rs 11,062 crore, while revenue grew 17 per cent to Rs 70,678 crore from the previous financial year.

"FY'20 has been a landmark year, where we witnessed our highest growth in recent years and an industry leading performance for the fourth consecutive year.

"Our focused 'Mode 1-2-3 strategy' helped deliver an all-round growth across service lines, verticals and geographies and enabled us to deliver at the top end of our revenue guidance and exceed the top-end of our margin guidance for the year," Vijayakumar said.

During the fiscal, HCL Tech signed 53 transformational deals.

At the end of March 2020 quarter, HCL had 1,50,423 employees with the addition of 1,250 people in the fourth quarter. Its attrition (on last 12 month basis) was at 16.3 per cent.

HCL Tech said of its total global employee base, presently 96 per cent are working from home and another 2.5 per cent are working from offices.

The Board has proposed a final dividend of Rs 2 per share on double the number of shares post 1:1 bonus issue.

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