US – Pension and human resources consultant Hewitt Associates’ fourth-quarter consulting revenues rose 47% to 186.1 million dollars from 126.7 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2001. It said the rise was partly driven by its purchase of Bacon & Woodrow in the UK.

“The increase was driven by the acquisition of Bacon & Woodrow, continued growth in retirement and health benefit plan consulting, and modest improvement in discretionary consulting services,” Hewitt said in its fourth-quarter earnings statement earlier this month.

For the fiscal year, consulting revenues rose 15% to 600.7 million dollars. It added that revenue growth was partially offset by decreased demand for certain discretionary consulting services over the prior year.

"Our consulting business delivered strong results in fiscal 2002, despite a challenging economic environment and clients' reduced spending on discretionary consulting services," said chairman and chief executive Dale Gifford.

Its overall net revenues, including its other business segments, rose 16% in fiscal year 2002 to 1.72 billion dollars compared to 1.48 billion dollars in fiscal year 2001.

"Fiscal 2002 was a significant year in the company's 62-year history on many fronts, including our 41st consecutive year of revenue growth and the ninth consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth," said Gifford.

On a pro forma basis – taking into account the firm’s change from a partnership into a company and the Bacon & Woodrow acquisition, net income for fiscal year 2002 was 70 million dollars. Net income in the fourth quarter, on the same basis, came in at 27 million dollars.

It said it expects net revenue growth of 15% to 18% in 2003. It sees the Bacon & Woodrow purchase helping the consulting business grow by 20% in the coming year.