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What Infosys' quarterly results imply
January, 13th 2010

Forget General Motors: what is good for Infosys is good for the world economy. The company has become a bellwether not only for Indias IT industry but for the global economy that it services.

Its Q3 revenues were up an amazing 6.7% quarter over quarter, suggesting a sharp upswing in global IT spending. To meet rising demand, Infosys will hire an additional 6,000 people in the next quarter and 25,000 over a full year.

Its margins have risen despite an erosion of 180 basis points on account of the appreciating rupee, suggesting that the IT industry should be able to cope with further appreciation of the rupee in 2010. Infosys and indeed the entire Indian IT industry looks on track to return to annual growth of 25%, on a much higher base than before.

That is very encouraging news. The financial crisis in the west may have caused a Great Recession, but the consequent financial mergers and acquisitions have resulted in substantial additional business in the financial software vertical.

Infosys reports that software demand from retailers has also been strong, though demand from manufacturing and telecom remains weak. However, these two lagging sectors will surely catch up as the global recovery gathers momentum.

Good news from Infosys is not an isolated event: technology stocks on Nasdaq have been buoyant in recent months because of good results from several companies. When corporates across the globe increase technology spending, that is a sign of improving economic health. Fears of a double-dip recession seem overblown.

The Infosys results suggest that the world economy is going to grow faster in 2010 than predicted by most analysts, and the US may grow faster than the predicted 3%. Of course, this depends on good economic management in the OECD, to exit from the massive financial stimulus of 2008-09 without causing another downturn.

Governments are likely to risk inflation through delayed exit rather than risk a double-dip recession through prematurely early exit. This is definitely the right approach. And, while the corporate sector dare not say so too loudly, a little inflation can be great for profits and revenues.

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