GLOBAL – Hewitt Associates has reported stronger profit and revenue at its consulting division in the third quarter, driven by growth outside its North American base.

Consulting segment income rose by 48% to $53.6m (€77.4m) from $36.3m a year before. The margin in the unit rose to 25.1% from 18.6%,

Revenues in the segment were up 8% at $213.7m. The Illinois-based firm said: “The increase was driven by growth across all areas of consulting, particularly outside North America.”

But the growth in consulting revenues was overshadowed by a 41% increase in outsourcing revenues to $498.1m, as a result of its acquisition of outsourcing firm Exult last year.

Hewitt’s total net revenues increased 29%, to $711.9m with net income up to $33.0m from $29.9m.

"We continued to make great progress in building our HR BPO [human resources business process_outsourcing] business during the third quarter, implementing services for several clients announced previously as well as winning an additional four clients since the last quarterly announcement,” said chairman and chief executive Dale Gifford.

“Our competitive position remains very strong, and we continue to expand our leadership position in HR BPO.”

Gifford added the firm is still making “important progress” to cut costs and improve efficiency and “better position the firm for long-term sustainable growth and profitability”.

Hewitt added that it expects fiscal 2005 total net revenue growth of between 29% and 31% - with consulting growing between 6-8%.