US – Watson Wyatt & Co., the US sister firm of Europe-based Watson Wyatt LLP, says it aims to stay focused on “thought leadership” – despite a fall in income and revenue.

The Washington-based firm said income from continuing operations for the 2004 fiscal year slipped to 49.9 million dollars (40.7 million euros) from 50.4 million dollars a year ago. Revenues for the period were down at 702 million dollars from 709.6 million dollars a year before.

Income in the fourth quarter was flat at 12.7 million dollars – and included a 3.2 million dollar charge relating to a lease termination. Revenue was up one percent at 180 million dollars.

"We achieved solid results in the quarter, ending fiscal 2004 on a positive note,” said president and chief executive John Haley.

He added: "We are well-positioned to continue this growth trend in fiscal 2005, as our newer service offerings continue to gain traction in the marketplace and as we stay sharply focused on target market penetration, client retention and thought leadership."

The firm’s benefits group saw revenues in the year rise four percent to 425.5 million dollars. It said: “The benefits group growth for the year came largely from new actuarial client wins in the retirement practice as well as growth in the health care and investment consulting areas.”

It said the outlook for the 2005 fiscal year was for revenues to grow 3-5% “largely due to growth in the benefits practice”.

“Based on current trends, the company anticipates that it will continue to win new retirement clients and health care projects.”

The company added it made a 10 million-dollar contribution to its US qualified pension plan in the year.

Earlier this week Watson Wyatt Investment Consulting Inc. announced that it has set up a Los Angeles office and expanded its teams in New York and Atlanta. It said: “Overall, the firm has added 10 professionals to its US investment consulting practice.”