IT Services: Tier-1 players lagging across segments

By: | Published: September 17, 2018 3:38 AM

Indian Tier-1 IT, after progressively showing lower market share gains over the past three years, has lost market share to MNCs (ACN/CAP) on an LTM basis.

Accenture, Cap Gemini, EPAM, ATOS and VRTU are guiding for better organic growth next year. (Representational photo: PTI)

In this note, we look at the recent result trends and outlook for global players (Accenture, Cap Gemini, DXC, IBM, Atos, EPAM, Luxoft, and Virtusa). We also provide a comparison with Tier-2 IT
(LTI, PSYS, HEXW, and MTCL).

Loss of market share for Tier-1 IT
Indian Tier-1 IT, after progressively showing lower market share gains over the past three years, has lost market share to MNCs (ACN/CAP) on an LTM basis. Also, FY19 guidance suggests a weaker year, with:
(i) CTSH and HCLT guiding for slower organic growth in FY19 vs FY18; (ii) INFO likely to grow near the lower end of guidance; and (iii) WPRO expected to grow in low-single digits for FY19, on our estimates. The only exception is TCS, where we expect growth to accelerate in FY19F. In comparison, Accenture, Cap Gemini, EPAM, ATOS and VRTU are guiding for better organic growth next year.

Tier-1 IT underperforming across segments; demand less of an issue
ACN, new Challengers (EPAM/ VRTU/ LXFT) and Tier-2 IT seem to be outperforming Tier-1 IT not just on overall growth but across North America, Europe, BFSI and TMT. Growth challenges seen at Tier-1 IT are not seen at these competitors, with overall growth at 16-22% vs 8% for Tier-1 IT, North America growth at 11-26% vs 7% for Tier-1 IT, BFSI growing at 15-20% vs 7% for Tier-1 IT and TMT growing at 22-37% vs 5% for Tier-1 IT. Europe is the only segment where Tier-1 IT, at 17% y-o-y, is matching the 16-23% growth.

Peer group commentary: Positive on BFSI/Energy, Divergent on Retail, Weak on Telco/Healthcare
Strength areas include (i) BFSI across North America, wealth management/risk and compliance/digital, regional banks and insurance. Europe has been cited as an area of weakness by CTSH/INFO /HCLT /LXFT (UBS/DB in particular); and (ii) Energy & Utilities outlook is uniformly positive ex WPRO.

Weakness areas include: (i) Healthcare, impacted by regulatory uncertainty in the US and the HPS acquisition for WPRO, and client-specific issues at LXFT; (ii) Telecom, impacted by consolidation and M&A activity as indicated by CTSH/LXFT/ CAP/ATOS; and (iii) UK, on delay in investments in Retail and Public sector.

Earnings growth and valuations
We expect Tier-1 IT to be in line on EPS CAGR (8%) over FY18-21F vs MNCs (8%), though at less than half of Tier-2 IT and Challengers. In comparison, Tier-1 IT valuations are at 20% premium to MNCs and 15-25% discount to Tier-2 IT and Challengers.

Retain cautious stance on IT: Pecking order: HCLT (Buy)>CTSH>TECHM> WPRO (Neutral)>TCS>INFO (Reduce). We believe the underperformance for tier-1 IT is driven by higher legacy exposure and proposition gaps, and we remain cautious on a growth catch-up for tier-1 IT.

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