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Edited Transcript of INFY.NSE earnings conference call or presentation 10-Jan-20 12:45pm GMT

Q3 2020 Infosys Ltd Earnings Call

Bangalore, Karnataka Jan 14, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Infosys Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:45:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Nandan M. Nilekani

Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board

* Nilanjan Roy

Infosys Limited - CFO

* Salil Satish Parekh

Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director

* Sandeep Mahindroo

Infosys Limited - VP, Financial Controller & Head of IR

* U. B. Pravin Rao

Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Abhinav Ganeshan;SBI Pension Fund;Analyst

* Apurva Prasad

HDFC Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Arvind Anil Ramnani

KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* Bryan C. Bergin

Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director

* Dipesh Mehta

SBICAP Securities Ltd., Research Division - Information Technology Analyst

* Diviya Nagarajan

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director and Research Analyst

* James Eric Friedman

Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Senior Analyst

* Joseph Dean Foresi

Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Research Division - Analyst

* Keith Frances Bachman

BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - MD & Senior Research Analyst

* Moshe Katri

Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division - MD of Equity Research & Senior Equity Research Analyst

* Nitin Padmanabhan

Investec Bank plc, Research Division - Analyst

* Pankaj Kapoor

JM Financial Institutional Securities Limited, Research Division - Director of India IT Services and Software Equity Research

* Rod Bourgeois

DeepDive Equity Research - Head of Research and Consulting

* Sandeep Shah

CIMB Research - VP

* Sandip Kumar Agarwal

Edelweiss Securities Ltd., Research Division - VP

* Shashi Bhusan

Axis Capital Limited, Research Division - Executive Director of IT and Telecom

* Sudheer Guntupalli

Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Vibhor Singhal

PhillipCapital (India) Pvt. Ltd., Research Division - VP & Lead Analyst of Infrastructure and IT Services

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, good day, and welcome to the Infosys Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) Please note that this conference is being recorded. I now hand the conference over to Mr. Sandeep Mahindroo. Thank you, and over to you, sir.

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Sandeep Mahindroo, Infosys Limited - VP, Financial Controller & Head of IR [2]

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Thanks, Karuna. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Infosys earnings call to discuss Q3 FY '20 earnings release. Happy New Year to everyone on the call. This is Sandeep from the Investor Relations team in Bangalore. Joining us today on this call is Chairman, Mr. Nandan Nilekani; CEO and MD, Mr. Salil Parekh; COO, Mr. Pravin Rao; CFO, Mr. Nilanjan Roy, along with other members of senior management team.

This call will be for 90 minutes and will be divided into 2 parts. For the first 30 minutes, our Chairman, Mr. Nandan Nilekani, will talk about and take questions on the whistleblower matters and the recently concluded investigation. That will be followed by the regular earnings call format in the next 60 minutes with opening comments by Salil, Pravin and Nilanjan, followed by Q&A.

Please note that anything which we say which refers to our outlook for the future is a forward-looking statement, which must be read in conjunction with the risk that the company faces. A full statement and explanation of these risks is available in our filings with the SEC, which can be found on www.sec.gov.

I'd now like to pass it on to Nandan.

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [3]

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Thank you, Sandeep. And I'd like to welcome all of you to this call. I'm pleased to say that the Infosys Audit Committee did not find any evidence of finished -- financial impropriety or executive misconduct. And there is absolutely no change in previously related financial statements. So everything has come out clean. We have had a very thorough investigation done. This was done by independent legal counsel, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, along with PricewaterhouseCoopers. We also had Ernst & Young as our internal auditors. And as you know, our certifying auditors are Deloitte. So this has gone through the scrutiny of all these various groups. And there is absolutely no issues of restatement or anything of that type. The Audit Committee has taken this very seriously and they've done a very thorough investigation.

Just to give you a sense of the scale of investigation, 128 interviews with 77 people, 46 custodians for data were nominated, and their review was over 210,000 documents with over 8 terabytes of data, which were processed. This investigation began on -- when we appointed Shardul Amarchand on October 21 and concluded today. And so it's been a very intense several weeks, which have occupied the investigators as well as our people, our Board members, our management team and also our general counsel, Inderpreet.

Now the investigation review was done for the period from Jan 1, 2018, to September 20 -- 30, 2019, and the investigative team was given complete unrestricted access to every person and every piece of information that was there. And it was ensured that the company, its director and its employees cooperated fully and extensively in this investigation.

Now as -- so apart from the fact that we had a very thorough investigation, we have also made sure that all the key findings of the investigation are put out in the public domain. So this is not some one statement thing, this is a detailed thing. We have taken each of the allegations, be it on the business side or be it about the CEO. And on a point by point basis, the allegations have been answered, and we have given the answers. And as you will find it on, I would say, almost all of it, it's very clear that the allegations are unsubstantiated.

There are a couple regarding one large deal where there was a question whether the method of auditing -- method of -- whether it's to use a percentage of completion method for cost or to use a straight line method for revenue recognition and -- for that. Now the company, as a policy, has been using both the SLM method and the POC method. And a very large number of projects are in SLM method. However, the company from time to time, based upon the nature of the contract, has chosen to operate on the POC method, and POC method was selected for this. Both these methods are in line with both accounting standards as well as the policy of the company. And therefore, we are quite comfortable that the company's actions on this have been correct.

The other matter, which is also related to the same contract, is some service credit and there has been point made by the investigators about that, and here again, we have reviewed the investigation and this is about whether something could be -- has to be reversed or non-accounted or whatever, and it is very clear that it is neither qualitatively nor quantitatively material to the reported revenues of operating guidance because the cumulative effect of this is in the range of 0.02% to 0.03%. It's a very, very minuscule amount, just a couple of million dollars compared to the multibillion-dollar revenue that it has. And therefore, this is not relevant and would've had no impact on any of our revenue margin guidance on this stuff.

So these are the only 2 things which we [done] and we have -- the Audit Committee has taken the view on both. So overall, we have -- everything else is unsubstantiated. There were also a number of allegations made about the CEO, some of which were bordering on the comics, but anyway, we have taken them one by one and shown clearly that there is no -- all of them have been addressed and we are very happy that the CEO has come out of this investigation with flying colors.

And I'm very grateful to Salil, both Salil and his team have had to really face a lot of questions and they are thorough professionals, whether it's Salil, whether it's our CFO, Nilanjan Roy, or all the outstanding members of our finance department, Jayesh, Deepak Bhalla, Sachin Zute, Amrita Srikanth, Sandeep Mahindroo and others. All of them are outstanding professionals and they've had to deal with both closing the books as well as closing this investigation, and they have done that brilliantly with high integrity, and therefore, I think -- we are very, very pleased, the Board, the chair, the audit committee, everybody is pleased that our management team has come out so well. And the Board continues to have the fullest confidence in Salil and his management team, and we believe that this episode, this distraction, has actually made us stronger, more committed to our goals, brought us all together. And we are now very, very confident that having put this distraction to rest, we can get on with our business of running a great company.

So I will stop at this point and I'll be happy to take questions. And -- I will take questions and after I finish my session, I'll hand over to Sandeep, after which, we'll get down to the real purpose of this call, which is to discuss the business performance of Infosys.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) The first question is from the line of Moshe Katri from Wedbush Securities.

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Moshe Katri, Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division - MD of Equity Research & Senior Equity Research Analyst [2]

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Congratulations on concluding this internal investigation. Two things here. Will there be any changes to the future use of POC accounting down the road? That's number one. And number two, any color on the ongoing SEC investigation in terms of timeline and what to expect?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [3]

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Yes. Thanks, Moshe. It's good to hear your voice. First of all, the company's policy has been to have both these methods, SLM and POC. It is true that the bulk of the contracts are done with SLM, but from time to time, the -- given the sort of unique nature of some contracts, we do use the POC method. So both are part of the policy. And I'm not an expert, and maybe I'm getting into dangerous waters, but I don't think there's any -- going to be any change in this policy.

On the second point, you're absolutely right. We are engaging with the SEC. The SEC, we have -- we are giving them full cooperation. Over the last several weeks, we have been giving them an update from time to time, and we will continue to engage with the SEC and take this to its logical conclusion. In terms of the timeframe, as you know, I -- we cannot say what the timeframe would be that the SEC will see, but we are there, ready and waiting and able to engage on any issue and give them the fullest cooperation.

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Operator [4]

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The next question is from the line of Rod Bourgeois from DeepDive Equity Research.

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Rod Bourgeois, DeepDive Equity Research - Head of Research and Consulting [5]

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Yes. Will there be any changes in your employee base as a result of this investigation? Or all the employees that were involved remaining with the company at this point?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [6]

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Now first of all, that is an assumption which I would like to correct. There is no evidence that this whistleblower was done by employees. Saying that it is employees does not mean it is by employees, please understand that. And it's entirely equally likely that this was done from outside. And it has nothing to do with employees because as I said, we have complete confidence and faith in the integrity of our finance team and leadership. So there is absolutely no change. We have a very strong team. They continue to be there. And we will continue to build the company as we always were.

We -- as you know, under the whistleblower protection policy, we're not supposed to go around looking for who the whistleblower is. And as I also said, this could be inside or outside. We think there is a -- our view would tend towards outside, and therefore, I would not get worried about the -- this issue at all, and everybody continues and does their job.

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Rod Bourgeois, DeepDive Equity Research - Head of Research and Consulting [7]

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That's a very helpful clarification. One quick follow-up. I mean as we've moved into the digital era, the nature of deal structures have modified to some extent. Are you making any changes in your approach to structuring deals or your process of approving deals? And did this investigation shed any light on modifications to any processes that might be useful going forward?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [8]

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No. I think, in fact, if anything, this very detailed investigation, which examined 210,000 pieces of data and which had 8 terabytes and all that, has, in fact, brought out the robustness and detailed approach that we have, the way we approach revenue recognition, the way we approach contracts. We -- of course, we are always willing to learn and improve. And once we get all the details from -- as you know, we have 3 auditors and one law firm here. So we need to really assemble from all that. But once we get all the details, if there is a scope for process improvement, we will do that. That is the nature of how we do things. We keep improving processes. If there's nothing specific, and in fact, after having this extensive investigation, the fact it's boiled down to some couple of things itself shows the strength of the company.

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Operator [9]

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The next question is from the line of Bryan Bergin from Cowen.

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Bryan C. Bergin, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [10]

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Just one for me on the section. Any material costs associated with the actual review process that are worth identifying here? So any financial impact from the actual process that you went through, just to give us a sense of any related margin drag?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [11]

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No. I'm sorry, financial impact from what?

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Bryan C. Bergin, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [12]

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As far as the process that the company had a -- yes...

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [13]

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Of the investigation itself?

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Bryan C. Bergin, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [14]

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Yes.

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [15]

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No. It's -- I think the cost has already been factored in our Q3.

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Bryan C. Bergin, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [16]

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Okay. I just was curious if it was a material number that impacted the operating performance?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [17]

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No, no, no, no. Not at all. I think while it is expensive to hire lawyers, I think on a $12 billion revenue, we can manage.

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Operator [18]

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The next question is from the line of Sudheer Guntupalli from Motilal Oswal.

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Sudheer Guntupalli, Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [19]

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Yes. Going forward, is there a mechanism that we identified to ensure that genuine stakeholders of the company, be it shareholders or employees or clients or even the management team, are insulated from any more of such potentially frivolous complaints?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [20]

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Boss, now if somebody files a whistleblower complaint and if that person chooses to also release it to the media before the company has an opportunity to investigate and come to a conclusion, there is nothing that the company can do. We are committed to higher standards of governance. We will deal with whistleblowers as they come, and we are confident that we will -- we run business in a clean and ethical manner, and we'll continue to do that.

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Sudheer Guntupalli, Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [21]

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Sure, sir. And one more question. When we talk to the clients, are there any references to this incident? Or any clients have any -- expressed any concerns related to this?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [22]

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No. When this incident happened, we did reach out to clients. We explained to them that we were doing an investigation. And our clients, many of whom we have been working for more than 2 decades, were very understanding. And now that the reports have come out, and there's a clean chit for the company and for its leadership, we will make sure that all our customers are aware of this development so that if they have any niggling concerns, they'll be put to rest.

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Operator [23]

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The next question is from the line of Sandip Agarwal from Edelweiss.

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Sandip Kumar Agarwal, Edelweiss Securities Ltd., Research Division - VP [24]

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Congratulation on giving the findings of audit committee very favorable one. So Nandan, I have just one question, and I know that you have already answered it in a different way, but I would like to know the immense pain which everyone has to go through when this kind of frivolous and intentional motivated complaints are made and -- things are made, and there is immense suffering from -- for all the stakeholders, obviously, company suffers most, they have to give so much of time to this investigation and do their job. And I understand that you followed the best policies on whistleblower, so you will continue to do that. But the challenge is that if this thing keeps on coming, it definitely impacts indirectly the CEO, the CFO, everyone who is on the job. So it impacts our business in a very substantial way. So is there any way that at least a very limited ones actually can this -- do this kind of disruption, most of them, there is a process which can filter out whether there is any sanctity to that or anything which could be done to at least stop mala fide intentions of this kind of complaints?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [25]

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Well, you are absolutely right in saying that when you have such a complaint, it creates a distraction in many ways. Number one, the sheer amount of time. Remember, I talked about the number of interviews and all that. So the sheer amount of time that our leadership team and our finance team has to spend on this is a distraction from their work. Very often, they have to stay in one place to meet -- do the interview, which means they can't travel to meet customers. So that's a second issue. Third, absolutely, when you take upstanding professionals and make wild allegations about them, it can be -- it can affect the morale, and that's certainly something which we have to be cautious about. Some of our customers may have questions and so on and so forth. So I agree with you on that.

But I think it's also the responsibility of you guys and media because when there is a completely anonymous complaint, which is deliberately leaked before the company has been given the opportunity to process and have an investigation, then you guys also should think. Part of the problem here is that the reaction of the media and the investors also on very spacious stuff. So I think everybody has a role to play to make sure that this kind of weaponizing does not happen.

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Sandip Kumar Agarwal, Edelweiss Securities Ltd., Research Division - VP [26]

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So Nandan, if I can add one point only. Just we have same view what you have from day 1, like we have always said that nothing wrong can happen in Infosys, at least on corporate governance and those kind of things. We always said that the only challenges that when this kind of thing happens, also there is a lot of pain from the perspective that the long-term value of the stock, means, I understand that these things have -- you don't take short-term view and all that. But even in the long-term view, if you take the stock, there are many parameters, which are there, when anyone evaluates the stock, those gets disturbed very substantially, and it impacts the value of the company. So that's the reason I'm asking that there has to be some options or you can at least think of some process by which these things could be -- from the company side also could be limited or restricted to some extent that you give some kind of clarification immediately. Means, I'm not saying you should do this, but I'm just saying if anything could be done from your side.

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [27]

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Boss, boss, boss. Please, please, understand. If -- look, what are the incentives? Now suppose, we have a policy. I'm just saying hypothetical, this is not -- hypothetically, suppose we have a policy that every time we get a whistleblower, we issue a press release or something, there'll be no end to it. We'll have 10 whistleblowers a day. And no matter how wild the allegations and no matter how unsubstantiated they are, we'll have to be issuing (inaudible) notices. I mean I don't think any company in the world can run like that. So you have to accept that when something is anonymous, unsubstantiated and not backed by evidence, the lease you can do is give the management and the Board the space to investigate and get back. Now if you don't have that, then what can I say? I mean what do you want me to do?

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Sandip Kumar Agarwal, Edelweiss Securities Ltd., Research Division - VP [28]

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Absolutely...

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [29]

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I give it to you. No, I give it to you that obviously if something like this is there, then it create an overhand and all that. I appreciate that. But our goal is to minimize this and hopefully reach a point when we will not have any more of these things.

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Sandip Kumar Agarwal, Edelweiss Securities Ltd., Research Division - VP [30]

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Absolutely. This repair report which you have published, I think, in the long term now people will not take this kind of anonymous complaint at all seriously. That is what I hope.

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [31]

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I mean your hope is -- we appreciate your hope and we are with you, man.

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Operator [32]

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The next question is from the line of James Friedman from Susquehanna.

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James Eric Friedman, Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Senior Analyst [33]

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Most of my questions have been answered. I'll go back into the operating, but I do want to ask Nandan, from your prepared remarks, do you have any sense of what the motivation of the whistleblower might have been? Was it nefarious in nature? And are there any repercussions for them?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [34]

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No. We have to be very, very careful on these things because especially under U.S. law, the whistleblower is well protected and rightly so because you need strong whistleblower protection to ensure that genuine malpractices and fraud come out. And I appreciate that. But what happens often is that because of those strong protections, we are also not in a position to even speculate on who could it be and so on. So we are also bound by what we can do. But we will -- I think once this whole thing is settled down, we will look at the law again and see what is possible. But I think at this point we are not going to speculate on who it could be.

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Operator [35]

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The next question is from the line of Sandeep Shah from CGS-CIMB.

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Sandeep Shah, CIMB Research - VP [36]

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Just one question. As a method of investigation, whether the current investigators who carried out the report or whether they had a right to ask for those evidence, like video and the e-mail, which has been claimed by the whistleblower letter, has been just given to the regulator from the regulator or they have not been allowed to do that as for the regulatory hurdles?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [37]

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No. Look, see, please understand that in this whole episode, the claim on evidence is only in the letter sent to the whistleblower protection office of the SEC and that letter claims that there is pen drive with one with e-mails and one with some phone calls. Now we have not received that. We said that also in one of the statements we issued late October, early November. And as you know, the regulator also says if you ask the regulator about something, they say we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of this.

So you don't get any visibility from the regulators. We don't have the information, nor has the whistleblower thought it fit to provide this information to the investigator. So as far we are concerned, we don't know if such evidence exists, and we'll be happy to see it and we look forward to the whistleblower sending us this information.

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Operator [38]

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The next question is from the line of Keith Bachman from Bank of Montreal.

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Keith Frances Bachman, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - MD & Senior Research Analyst [39]

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For this section, my questions have been answered.

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Operator [40]

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The next question is from the line of Joseph Foresi from Cantor.

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Joseph Dean Foresi, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Research Division - Analyst [41]

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Most of the questions have been answered, but I just had kind of 2 quick ones. It sounded in your earlier remarks like you thought it might -- or the whistleblower might have come from outside the company. I'm just wondering why you thought that? And then just as importantly, if the person or entity continues, how do you expect to handle that and/or copycats?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [42]

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Well, first of all, I mean, as I said, beyond a point, we can't really investigate where it's coming from. We are [confident] that our finance leadership team is innocent. They are of the highest integrity. They have not done this. That much I can say categorically.

Now -- I mean -- and therefore, we would tend to believe that perhaps there is an external hand in this. But again, because of the fact that we are constrained from actually getting into it, I can't comment more than that. Now if there are -- somebody wants to do some copycat thing, we'll have to deal with it. I think we are fully prepared. We have nothing to hide. We run a company with high ethical standards. We run our robust balance sheet. Here in this whole situation, I mean, just think about it, 3 months of investigation, 210,000 e-mails, 7 and whatever x terabytes, petabytes of data and all that we have is something which [comes] to some $2 million write-off.

So -- I mean -- so this clearly shows that this company has very, very robust processes and checks and balances. So we are completely confident about the way we run our business. And I'm sure that once that confidence is there, then even if somebody tries something, then it won't have any credibility.

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Joseph Dean Foresi, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Research Division - Analyst [43]

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Yes. No, I guess my concern was like if there was a short seller or somebody else who's trying to create volatility in the stock if they kept doing it, what -- if you had any plans in place to handle future accusations? But -- that's why I asked about the copycats.

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [44]

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Yes, I mean. I can't help you there.

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Operator [45]

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The next question is from the line of Shashi Bhusan from Axis Capital.

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Shashi Bhusan, Axis Capital Limited, Research Division - Executive Director of IT and Telecom [46]

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Congratulation on favorable verdict from the investigation that helped resolving most of the queries raised by whistleblower, sir. Do you think this would be sufficient to take care of most of SEC queries?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [47]

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I'm sorry.

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Shashi Bhusan, Axis Capital Limited, Research Division - Executive Director of IT and Telecom [48]

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Do you think the internal audit that you have run would be sufficient to take care of most of the SEC queries that could come?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [49]

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Boss, I can't comment on how the SEC will view this. All I can say is that we have done a very thorough and rigorous investigation. The investigating legal firm and investigating auditing firm have been given complete access to every e-mail, every conversation, whatever it is. And they have been encouraged to interview. In fact, many people have had multiple interviews so that they get to the bottom of all this. And over the last several weeks, our legal counsel has been updating SEC about the development. So I think now it's early for that conversation to happen. I'm really sorry, I cannot read their mind. So I can't say what it is, but we are comfortable that we have a very thorough, extensive and comprehensive investigation. And we hope that will give us in good stead when we engage with them.

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Shashi Bhusan, Axis Capital Limited, Research Division - Executive Director of IT and Telecom [50]

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Sure. Sir, one on the business side. Our aggressive sales pitch has helped regain some market share. But there were deals like asset and employee takeover where Infosys was not trading earlier, and that has been big contributor of growth in FY '19 and '20. So do we see any change in our stance for the same after this episode?

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Nandan M. Nilekani, Infosys Limited - Non-Executive Chairman of the Board [51]

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No. I think, this is really a business question, and I will request Salil to answer it maybe in your session. But fundamentally, whatever strategy that is being followed, whether it is large deals, employee takeover, all the strategies followed by management is completely endorsed by the company. It is the official strategy of the company presented to the Board and the Board fully backs this decision.

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Operator [52]

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Ladies and gentlemen, now I hand the conference back to Mr. Sandeep Mahindroo for further proceedings. Over to you, sir.

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Presentation

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Sandeep Mahindroo, Infosys Limited - VP, Financial Controller & Head of IR [1]

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Thanks, Nandan, for providing your comments on this aspect. Thanks for your time.

We now move to the second part of this call, which is on the recently concluded quarter and the commentary on business. I'd request Salil to give his opening remarks, subsequent to which Pravin and Nilanjan will talk before we open up for Q&A.

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [2]

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Thank you, Nandan. Thank you, Sandeep. Good morning, and good evening to everyone on the call, this is Salil. Before I share with you the update for our strong quarterly results, I'd like to share a few remarks. I would like to thank the Board and Nandan for their trust in the way we are driving the business and for the conclusion of the investigation, which showed no financial impropriety or misconduct. I would like to thank all the employees of Infosys and our leadership team who have been steadfast in their support of me and the work I am doing here. I would like to thank my family and friends for their guidance in the last few months. They have been a pillar of strength for me.

Going forward, my objective remains to continue working with commitment and integrity and with intrusiveness. I look forward to working with our clients and helping them transform their business with the new digital future, and in that process, build the Infosys for the next decade.

With that, let me share our results update. I have a few comments to make there. As I said earlier, a very strong and successful quarter. And we delivered another quarter of all-around performance in Q3. The revenue growth was strong in Q3. Digital revenue share crossed 40%. Operating margins expanded for the second consecutive quarter. Cash conversion was very strong. Deal signings were healthy and attrition reduced during the quarter. We grew 9.5% year-on-year in Q3 in constant currency terms.

Growth in the first 9 months of this financial year is comfortably in double digits at 11.1% over the same period for the prior year. In Q3, both the U.S. and Europe geography saw double-digit growth, and most of our business segments witnessed another quarter of double-digit growth in constant currency terms. Our digital revenue grew at 40% in Q3 in constant currency terms.

Digital revenues crossed $5 billion annual run rate, and were at $1.32 billion in Q3, constituting 40.6% of overall revenues.

As we shared with you at the recent analyst meeting, our digital investments across the 5 pillars is deepening our engagement with clients, reflecting a strong growth in this area.

We had a healthy quarter of large deal signings in Q3 at $1.8 billion. The 56% increase in large deal TCV in first 9 months of this year over the same period in the prior year is a reflection of our client centricity and the benefits of various investments we've made over the past few years, which is also visible in the growth in client metrics, especially with the $100 million client count increasing by size to 28 and our $200 million client count doubling in the last 1 year.

Operating margin in Q3 expanded to 21.9% compared to 21.7% last quarter. Nilanjan will elaborate on the margin puts and takes and cash generation during his remarks.

I'm pleased with another quarter of reduction in attrition will decline to 17.6% at a gain of almost 2 percentage points compared to Q2. Within this, voluntary attrition is lowest at 15.6%.

Our digital capability along with our large deal engine continues to be the growth driver for us. Let me share with you a few examples. A leading European telecommunications provider selected us as their preferred IT partner to deliver several digital and data initiatives for the next 5 years.

We've been selected by the Australian Federal Government’s Services Australia to digitally transform the entitlement calculation engine for the nation's welfare system. The program will replace a significant portion of a 30-year-old platform, modernizing the way Services Australia calculates entitlements for Australians needing government support.

A European chemical company has retained our services to digitally transform 19 of their data center set across 6 countries.

Such large-scale transformation to modernize existing technology investments and make them digital for the future are increasingly becoming a priority for our clients, and we are deeply invested in serving their expanding needs.

Driven by double-digit growth in the first 9 months, we are updating our financial year 2020 revenue guidance. Our revenue growth guidance moves from 9% to 10% to 10% to 10.5% on a constant currency basis. We are retaining our operating margin guidance at 21% to 23% for the financial year 2020.

With that, let me hand it over to Pravin.

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [3]

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Thank you, Salil. Hello, everyone. Wish you all a very happy New Year. Our growth momentum continues despite the seasonal weakness with year-on-year growth of 9.5% and sequential growth of 1% in constant currency terms. Four of our major business segments logged double-digit year-on-year growth in constant currency. Both North America and Europe also grew double digits year-on-year in constant currency.

Utilization, excluding [trainees], declined during the quarter by 50 bps to 84.4%, reflecting seasonal weakness. Onsite effort mix reduced to 27.7%, a further decline of 50 bps compared to last quarter. Our effort system attrition continued to show results.

On a standalone basis, attrition reduced by another 1.8% sequentially to 17.6%. Voluntary attrition was even lower at 15.6%. Our enhanced focus on increasing employee engagement, performance and skills-driven value proposition and improving diversity will continue.

Client metrics continued to be strong. We added 84 new clients during the quarter. Number of $100 million clients increased to 28.

We won 14 large deals with a combined TCV of $1.8 billion. Out of this, share of net new deals was 32%. Seven deals were in Financial Services, 2 deals each in Communication and Manufacturing vertical and one deal each in Retail, Energy, Utilities, Resources & Services and Other segment.

Region wise, 8 were from Americas, 5 were from Europe and one from Rest of the World.

Cumulative large deal wins in 9 months stand at $7.4 billion, which is 56% higher than 9 months of the last fiscal.

Moving to the business segments. While the headwinds persist in Financial Services, we have seen sequential growth in North America, aided by stable customer spend and new deal wins. We saw significant impact of [furlough] in Europe and rest of the world regions. The commercial and corporate bank, consumer, costs and payments, wealth management and custody, mortgages portfolios of our business are seeing good traction across geographies. We expect pressure to continue in the near term driven by market volatility and pressure in spending in -- around the business segment.

Retail segment performance remained muted with continued cautious stance of plans. There is acceleration in spending towards digital, IT simplification and modernization, which is our priority for clients. We are proactively investing in creating assets to help our clients maximize value to price from their digital investments.

Manufacturing performed strong with continued momentum from existing clients. However, weakening economic outlook and the effects of trade war have led to increasing scrutiny on spending plans. Infrastructure cloud services are seeing traction and in application related services. Focus is on mobility and data analytics.

Our deal pipeline is strong with good share of large deals and new account openings across geographies. Strength in Communication segment continued due to past large-deal wins, plan for prioritizing funding in their customer retail and transformation initiatives through digital channels, self-services, omnichannel, AI and chat bots.

We're also seeing increase in spending around cybersecurity and network virtualization.

Momentum in Energy, Utilities, Resources & Services vertical soften slightly due to seasonal weakness and some client-specific issues. We continue to win deals in this segment and have a robust order pipeline. Automation, RPA, operational insights and technology-led innovation are becoming mainstream in Resources and Utilities. Service reliability, cybersecurity, compliance and safety are attracting higher spend in this space.

Our digital portfolio is growing bigger and stronger. Digital revenues grew by over 40% year-on-year in constant currency in quarter 3 and now constitutes more than 40% of our overall revenues. We see increase in demand towards data and analytics, cloud, SaaS, user experience, security and IoT.

We have inaugurated a new digital innovation center in Düsseldorf, Germany, to focus on next-generation business suites such as SAP HANA as well as cloud-based services, IoT, 5G, AI and machine learning.

In the last quarter, Infosys was ranked as leader in 8 ratings in the area of IoT and engineering services, modernization, makers of dynamics, ServiceNow and blockchain services.

With that, I will hand over to Nilanjan.

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [4]

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Thanks, Pravin. Good evening, everyone, and welcome to our quarter 3 FY '20 earnings call. Let me start by wishing everyone a very happy New Year.

Our revenues in quarter 3 were $3.24 billion, which is a constant currency growth of 9.5% year-on-year. The year-to-date constant currency growth is 11.1% compared to the same period last year. Similar to prior quarters, growth was broad-based with U.S., Europe and many business segments growing double digits year-on-year.

Our revenues from digital crossed 40% during the quarter. Operating margin in Q3 was 21.9% compared to 21.7% last quarter, an improvement of 20 basis points.

During the quarter, the rupee depreciated against the dollar by 1%, but was offset by reduced contributions from revenue hedges, leading to a net 10 basis point benefit in operating margins due to currency.

Cost optimization measures including improvements in onsite mix and operating hedges helped margins by 50 basis points. This was offset by a drop in utilization, some of it seasonal, and [RTP], which impacted margin by 40 basis points, leading to a 20 bps increase in operating margins over quarter 2.

We will continue to focus on improving operations parameters like rationalizing pyramid, both onshore and offshore, improving onsite/offshore mix, lean and automation and other cost optimization measures.

DSO increased by 7 days although unbilled revenues also, on the other hand, reduced by 4 days. Cumulative cash flow until December was $1.55 billion, which is a growth of 7.4% over the same period last year, aided by a tax refund of $221 million. Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the quarter was $3.42 billion.

Yield on investments was 7.77%, 20 basis points lower than Q2, reflecting declining interest rate environment in India. We paid out $577 million interim dividend during the quarter, including DDT.

Return on equity has increased to 25.9% in Q3 '20, an increase of 270 basis points year-on-year. This is due to the completion of share buyback and increased dividend payout for our shareholders. Driven by our performance in the first 9 months of the year, we have increased our revenue guidance to 10% to 10.5% in constant currency terms.

Operating margin for 9 months ended December are at 21.4%, firmly within the guidance range of 21% to 23%, and hence, we are retaining our operating margin band for FY '20 at 21% to 23%. With that, we open up the call for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) The first question is from the line of Abhinav Ganeshan from SBI Pension Fund.

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Abhinav Ganeshan;SBI Pension Fund;Analyst, [2]

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Congratulations on a great set of numbers and also for giving the clarity on the whistleblower front. Just my only question was, what is the outlook on the BFS space and the retail space?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [3]

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This is Pravin here. We have had a muted soft quarter in BFSI this [quarter]. On a sequential basis, it was flat, and on a year-on-year basis, we grew just over 6%. We have seen more than anticipated furlough impact in Europe and rest of the world. However, we have -- on the positive side, we have seen some growth in North America, banking in North America. But it's been a mixed bag. We expect some degree of softness to continue in the coming quarters. But we have a very strong franchise. We have a very diversified portfolio across geographies and segments in this space.

And also in the last few quarters, a big percentage of large deal wins have come from this space. So we are very confident that as and when spend -- when we start seeing spend uptick, we'll be able to capture it.

Similarly, on CRM space, this quarter, after a few quarters, we saw growth coming back. We had a 1% constant currency sequential growth, though on a year-on-year basis it was about 2% to 3%. We expect -- hopefully, this will start -- I mean this increased spend -- increasing growth will sustain over the quarter. But having said that, this space normally is very volatile and very susceptible to changes in consumer sentiments and so on. And we continue to see a record number of store closings and so on. So we expect some degree of volatility to continue in this space, but hopefully, we have come off a series of weak quarters, and hopefully, the positive quarter we had this quarter will continue in the next few quarters.

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Operator [4]

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The next question is from the line of Diviya Nagarajan from UBS.

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Diviya Nagarajan, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director and Research Analyst [5]

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On the contract flows, I think if you look at the 9-month strength that we've seen in net new deals. I think last quarter, we did see a low of around 10% of net new deals. This quarter, it's about 30% versus much higher new deals in the last year. That, when combined with some of the softness that you've just alluded to in some of your key sectors, I'm trying to understand what will then keep our revenue run rates where it is right now? What is needed to kind of keep this momentum up as the next few quarters come in?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [6]

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Diviya, this is Salil. I think the way you're looking at it is the way we are thinking about our business in terms of what are the drivers for our growth. As we shared at the Analyst Day and throughout the past year or so, the main focus has been large deals and digital expansion. To continue that momentum, we need to have that working through the next few quarters and obviously into the future. Our pipeline today is quite strong. So we have a good sense of where that's coming from. There remains significant connect and trust from our clients, and we are engaging with them on several of the new programs, and that's where we think we have to go more and more. But obviously, the way to drive that, our focus is today to close down our financial year in March and then start to think about the next fiscal year and what that's going to look like, given the overall environment, some of the comments that Pravin made about banking -- financial services and retail.

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Diviya Nagarajan, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director and Research Analyst [7]

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Fair enough. Congratulations to you and Nilanjan and the rest of the management team for a positive closure on the investigations, and I'll come back for follow-up questions if there's time. Have a great year.

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Operator [8]

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The next question is from the line of Bryan Bergin from Cowen.

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Bryan C. Bergin, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [9]

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I wanted to ask on the core. Can you comment on the acceleration in the decline of that [core] to negative 5%? Just what are the key drivers there?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [10]

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So as you saw in the note, our core business had a negative growth for this -- in this quarter year-on-year. And we have had in the past few quarters, more in the range of 0 or 0-plus type of growth. A year ago, it was low single digits. What we're seeing that is demonstrating to us is, the client buying is more and more in the digital area. Our business in the core services is extremely strong and competitive, and we believe that even here, we have a situation where we are ahead of where some of our peers are, but the spending with clients is more focused on digital. And with our reorientation investments and really market connect initiative with our partners and with our clients, we start to see some benefits where the digital is growing and, therefore, helping the overall company.

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Bryan C. Bergin, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [11]

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Okay. That was helpful. And then on margin, as far as the outlook goes, and as it relates to your initial 3-year investment and turnaround plan, would you say first that, that has progressed to your plan? I'm not asking for formal guidance beyond fiscal '20, but how should investors think about the margin drivers going forward from here?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [12]

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So like I just mentioned earlier, in the first call, so this industry, however, we face 2 cost headwinds. One is cost/pricing pressure and second is the wage inflation. Usually, the wage inflation, especially in India, will get offset hopefully by currency in the long term with the real rate interest differential, which basically leaves how do we make up the balance margin, which is cost optimization. We've laid out a very aggressive cost optimization plan, we've discussed that in detail in the analyst call.

A couple of things which are quite routine for this industry. We all know about the pyramidization, we talked about the onsite-offshore mix. But a few things we are driving, we think, quite uniquely. One is the setting up of the innovation hubs in the U.S. I think that's quite unique for us in that space because that allows us to build a full stack pyramid in the U.S. unlike a very top-heavy pyramid, which is there for most players in this segment. The other thing which we're doing very aggressively, and you'll see our numbers on subcon costs, which are well below our peer set. Subcons are quite necessary in this industry to make sure that there is -- short-term demand has been met or there's special skills. But what we've been doing now is at the tail end of the subcons, we're trying to replace them either with our own employees. So the hiring lead time, which is usually shorter for these, we will make up with our own employees or replacing these or converting some of these subcons to our own employees. So you see our subcon costs have been quite moderated in the last few quarters.

So we have a host of activities on cost optimization across probably about 21 tracks running simultaneously. And this is the treadmill we will have to be on this year in and year out. So we talked about digital pricing, it's something we are looking at and not that we think we'll command dramatic premiums, but more that we shouldn't be leaving any loose change on the table when we're looking at pricing of digital talent with a slight [scarce].

So like I said, this year, we had 21.4%. Even for the 9 months, we're sticking to 21% to 23%, and we'll come back to you next year, we'll look at it when we set up our new FY '21 plan.

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Operator [13]

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The next question is from the line of Nitin Padmanabhan from Investec.

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Nitin Padmanabhan, Investec Bank plc, Research Division - Analyst [14]

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A couple of questions, actually. One is, how much did the acquisition of Eishtec contribute for this quarter?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [15]

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Asset of, I think, $3 million.

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Nitin Padmanabhan, Investec Bank plc, Research Division - Analyst [16]

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$3 million. Sure. The second is, in terms of the cost savings that you alluded to, Nilanjan, you had mentioned $150 million of cost saving target for the year. How much of that have we sort of achieved in the first 9 months?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [17]

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So I take this. We are well on our way to see the annual target. So maybe, hopefully, we can be slightly above that, but we'll be quite confident of the $150 million number.

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Nitin Padmanabhan, Investec Bank plc, Research Division - Analyst [18]

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Sure. And the other thing was on the DSO, it's been sort of trending up over the past many quarters. Anything -- is that a reflection of the large deals? Or how should one think about it? Should we assume elevated levels of DSOs going forward?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [19]

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No, no. So I think last quarter, we were -- that type of increase in unbilled. So as you see in this, in conjunction with unbilled and unearned, there's -- actually the overall DSO unbilled, unearned and AR is actually only of 1 day. So a lot of this is, as we build the clients, we will recollect it in the future. So we have about, I think, $100 million reduction in unbilled as well. So it actually is in conjunction with that.

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Nitin Padmanabhan, Investec Bank plc, Research Division - Analyst [20]

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Yes. I'm looking at that, but over a longer period. So if I take a 4-quarter rolling period, it seems that it's sort of improving -- sort of increasing every quarter.

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [21]

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Yes. There has been some increase. And I think if you see in the industry as well, there has been a little bit of increase as we are seeing clients asking for a little bit more headroom. But I think there's nothing unduly concerning about it.

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Operator [22]

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The next question is from the line of Keith Bachman from Bank of Montreal.

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Keith Frances Bachman, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - MD & Senior Research Analyst [23]

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Yes. I wanted to ask 2 questions, if I could? I wanted to go back to margins for a second. You've had -- this is your second straight quarter of sequential margin increase, it's still down year-over-year. And should we therefore assume that as we look forward, the margins, if you continue to have flat to up sequential margins, that you can hold these levels as we look into the next fiscal year?

And any specific comments you want to offer on March quarter on how we should be thinking about the puts and takes associated with the operating margins? And then I have a follow-up, please.

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [24]

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As I said earlier, we're still holding on to 21% to 23% and we had 21.4%, and that's the way we look at the overall margin for the year. So I don't think at this stage, we'll be able to give an outlook on where we're going to end up this year in the quarter 4 or next year. By next quarter, we will give you an outlook into '21 -- FY '21, but that's premature now.

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Keith Frances Bachman, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - MD & Senior Research Analyst [25]

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Okay. Any puts and takes you want to call out for the March quarter, in particular, on operating margins?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [26]

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No, nothing really.

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Keith Frances Bachman, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - MD & Senior Research Analyst [27]

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Okay, okay. Then as I think about the revenue guidance that you've provided. You have raised it for this quarter, but if I still look at what's implied for the March quarter, it still suggests subseasonal growth relative to the last 2 fiscal years for the March quarter on a sequential basis. Is there anything you want to call out on why -- you've talked about the pipeline being pretty rich. But any reason why it would be subseasonal growth in the March quarter?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [28]

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This is Salil. The way we've looked at the guidance is given the strength we've had in the first 3 quarters of the year and the current pipeline, lead convergence and the revenue outlook we see internally for this coming quarter Q4, we felt comfortable to raise our guidance for the full year and of course, also narrow the band.

The specific commentary on the segments is more -- I would refer back to what Pravin said, the comments on financial services and retail, which he gave you some more color on. And then the real strength we have in several other of our segments, which are all growing double digits or more and the comment that he shared on those as well.

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Operator [29]

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The next question is from the line of Pankaj Kapoor from JM Financial.

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Pankaj Kapoor, JM Financial Institutional Securities Limited, Research Division - Director of India IT Services and Software Equity Research [30]

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Nilanjan, Salil had mentioned in the press meet that there are plans to replicate the on-site pyramid that we have developed in the U.S. now also to Europe and Australia in the coming year, so I was just wondering if you can elaborate on this in terms of what kind of a scale we are looking at? And what kind of investment this will require? And what's the plan of funding this investment, will it be through the normal [period]? Or will there be any incremental investment that will be going into this?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [31]

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This is Pravin here. Similar to what we did in U.S., we will -- we have started the journey in the rest of the world as well as in Europe. In Europe, in April, we started a hub in Romania and in October, we opened -- we filled up Germany. Similarly, in Australia, we will start with Melbourne and Sydney, where we already have a presence. We are not looking at any significant incremental investments. We will probably do it at a much slower pace than what we did in U.S. U.S., we had a context. Here, more and more we will do in the context of the client, wherever we have a client concentration or a client requirements and that's when we will do it. So we will probably take slightly longer than what we did in U.S. with very minimal investment.

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Pankaj Kapoor, JM Financial Institutional Securities Limited, Research Division - Director of India IT Services and Software Equity Research [32]

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Got it. And second, just on a structural basis, as we get into 2020, your attrition rate are, of course, coming down and looks like there have been some work on the pyramid as well. The subcontractor costs appear to be also stabilizing. So is it fair to assume that the supply side pressure this year are far lower compared to what we had last year?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [33]

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This is Salil. On the supply side, there is definitely significant demand -- significant demand for people. I think the attrition improvement is, frankly, a function of the program that Pravin announced and shared some details in the earlier session, but he also shared that at our Analyst Day, which very comprehensively looks at how we engage with our employees in this new era, where the value proposition in [terms of foreign] probably is very different. So that's really what's driving it. I think our approach of subcontractors is much more tailored to make sure that, as Nilanjan shared, we're replacing subcontractors with recruits as we see more demand [civility]. So we see supply pressure is very strong. I don't -- I couldn't relate to them at this stage, but we'll see how the next year or 2 looks in terms of demand moving from clients, and that will also give a benchmark for the supply side.

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Pankaj Kapoor, JM Financial Institutional Securities Limited, Research Division - Director of India IT Services and Software Equity Research [34]

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Okay. So I just wanted to basically clarify, my question was more in terms of the kind of outlook on the wage hike, do you expect this year? You think it will be relatively lower compared to what we had last year? And any kind of intervention that we had to do last year in terms of specific skill sets those kind of interventions may not be required?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [35]

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Okay. I follow what you ask. In terms of the salary increase, the decision we made a bit later. So we're not in a position to comment on the next fiscal year salary increase yet.

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Operator [36]

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The next question is from the line of Joseph Foresi from Cantor.

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Joseph Dean Foresi, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Research Division - Analyst [37]

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Two questions for you. One on demand, any thoughts on the sustainability of the growth rate within digital? And do you feel like the business has reset at this higher -- high single-digit annual growth rate?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [38]

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So again, here -- this is Salil. The thinking we have is more focused on how we are working with our clients and fulfilling their digital needs. We understand that the digital market, as a collective, is growing in the range of 15% or so. So our target would be to gain market share there. Based on the last few quarters, clearly we are in this quarter at 40%. I don't have percent clear, for example, in financial year '20, what our growth approach is going to be and especially we've got our client externally what our 3-year growth outlook could be. What is clear, though, is we seem to be winning market share in digital. And now that's being demonstrated over the past at least 6 or 7 quarters. So my sense is that if we can continue that, we will have the benefit of gaining market share overall. And then all of the other factors, for example, what's the lean share in financial services and retail, global macro and so on will come into play, and that will drive how the overall growth rate will look.

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Joseph Dean Foresi, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Research Division - Analyst [39]

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Okay. And then my second question is just, again, to go back to margins. Any reason to think that margins would not decline over a longer period of time. I mean you cited the pricing pressure in probably most of your business, wage inflation. And then clearly, you've got the need to invest to handle the digital movement. So from these levels, even though you're not giving any color or guidance on it, any reason to think that margins would improve or stabilize here?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [40]

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So like I said, our first task for this year as we entered FY '20 was basically stabilization on margins. You saw we came up at the end of quarter 4, and that was on the back of a lot of investments we have made both on the sale side. We have seen the dividend of that paying out, the impact of that is on large deals, on new account opening, how we split our hunting and farming teams. So we're really seeing those investments paying out. We've talked about the innovation hubs and setting that up and how they're leading to an improved cost structure for us as well as being a magnet for attracting client business.

So I think this year's target was basically coming to a stabilization mode. And I think that's where we are looking ahead, is how we make sure we are consistently delivering. Like I said, this is a treadmill. We need to ensure that the cost optimization tracks continue to deliver year in and year out. So there's no reason why we think that strategically or in the long term, this business should have low margins. We've seen -- we talked about lever of pricing. We always talk about scarce digital talent. So we should be able to price the new talent appropriately, get appropriate premiums related to the cost. So these are some of the things we are looking at.

And like we said, we'll come back to that in the next quarter.

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Operator [41]

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The next question is from the line of Moshe Katri from Wedbush Securities.

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Moshe Katri, Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division - MD of Equity Research & Senior Equity Research Analyst [42]

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A couple of questions here. Given the fact that you're the first company in this space to kind of report this quarter, maybe you can share with us some color that you're getting from clients about spending intentions for calendar year 2020, maybe some rough numbers in terms of what do you expect spending to look like year-over-year? And then also maybe some color on the budget cycle for 2020 as well.

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [43]

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Moshe, this is Salil. The -- we've started to get a sense with our discussions with clients, which is relatively early in the calendar year '20. And our own cycle -- we are now starting to build our own financial model for our next fiscal year starting in April. So we don't have a sense today that is robust, that I can share with you of what was that external leaders. We should have a better sense when we come back to you in the April cycle.

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Moshe Katri, Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division - MD of Equity Research & Senior Equity Research Analyst [44]

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All right. That's fair. And then second question is, I think the biggest highlight for the quarter was the growth in digital, that you had some pretty big and impressive numbers. Is there anything to call out here in terms of what's driving that? I mean seems to be -- I mean this seems to outperform some of your other peers in terms of growth in digital. Are you doing things differently? Are you getting better traction, win rates, et cetera, maybe that -- maybe you can comment on that?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [45]

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Sure. The thinking for us on digital. As you may know, there are 5 areas of digital we are focused on. Three of them, we see incredible traction today. The 3 being what we call experience to really have clients and end users connect with technology, and we've gone, I think, beyond sort of more run-of-the-mill experience to reading intuitive human experience thinking with digital studios all across the U.S. and Europe and Australia.

The second is the area of data, which is from our insights capability on the -- our digital. And again, we see extremely good traction on the data side, we see clients really responding well to our capabilities there. And we also see an extremely high-margin business with the good growth. And the third is cloud where we've built, I think, very strong partnerships with the 3 big cloud players globally. We've also built very strong partnerships with the SaaS players, and those -- their own growth is, in some ways, reflecting on us and giving us tremendous traction. So those are the 3 big areas for us today, that getting the most impact in terms of growth.

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Operator [46]

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The next question is from the line of Sandeep Shah from CGS-CIMB.

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Sandeep Shah, CIMB Research - VP [47]

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Just wanted to understand, if you look at the new business wins of Q2 and Q3, looks lower versus what it used to be in the earlier quarters. So is it an early indication that entering CY 2020 clients are more cautious in terms of IT spend, especially on the new initiatives?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [48]

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I'm not sure where you are drawing this conclusion because net new -- if you look at large deals we win, the net new was 32%, was much higher than what it was in the previous quarter. So -- and obviously, I mean, if you look at the last 2 quarters, there are some quarters where we've had higher net new and some quarters where renewals have been higher.

As Salil mentioned earlier, there are primarily 2 drivers for our growth. One is large deals, and we not only have to win our fair share and defend -- win large part of the renewals, but also net new. And we also have to capture as much of share on the digital side. And as long as we are able to do that, we feel that the momentum will continue.

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Sandeep Shah, CIMB Research - VP [49]

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Okay. And just a follow-up. Is it any change in trend of deal closure where decision-making cycle has been getting elongated because even election year coming in the U.S. as a whole. So any impact in terms of the decision making of a client?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [50]

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Not at this stage -- I mean, decision cycles have remained the same in the last few quarters. We have not seen any changes.

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Sandeep Shah, CIMB Research - VP [51]

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Okay, okay. And just the last bookkeeping question. The tax rate has gone down. So I do agree there is a refund angle as a whole, but is there any apart from that benefit coming out of the new tax regime in India? And what could be the normalized tax rate going forward?

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Nilanjan Roy, Infosys Limited - CFO [52]

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As we said, at the beginning of the year, overall guidance on ETR was between 27% to 28%. We got 2 benefits here this year. One is that in the last quarter, there was a clarification on the U.S. BEAT tax. So we've got a one-off benefit there, plus in India, in one of our subsidiaries, we have decided to go for the new tax regime, which is the 25% lower tax rate. So we got a benefit of, I think, approximately about $24 million between these 2 during the quarter. So our normalized would be about 27%, but these are 2 one-offs we got in this quarter.

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Operator [53]

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The next question is from the line of Arvind Ramnani from KBCM.

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Arvind Anil Ramnani, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [54]

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I have a couple of quick questions over here. When you look at your client conversations this year versus last year, there's certainly been a lot more changes, your mix towards digital has changed quite a bit. How are you feeling -- I'm not looking for necessary guidance for next year, but how are you feeling about kind of the demand environment this year relative to next -- to last year?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [55]

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Again, as we shared earlier, this is Salil, the real work on that will start to happen in this next few weeks for us. We will start to put together a little bit more systematic view from all of our segments and our service lines. We understand what that looks like for the full year. It's a little bit early. It's not [cycle] for me to comment on that.

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Arvind Anil Ramnani, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [56]

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Okay, great. And then I know this was already asked, the previous question -- the previous question already asked about this being impact on elections and -- any color you can provide? I mean has this come up at all in client conversations or about sort of planning, do you expect any kind of near-term delays?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [57]

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I think you're referring to the U.S. elections, right?

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Arvind Anil Ramnani, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [58]

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Yes, yes.

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [59]

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No. For us, nothing has come into the sort of client discussion mix to suggest a change in direction as a result of that at this stage. So we don't have any specific client shift that we can tell. Maybe as the year progresses, we'll see something.

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Operator [60]

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The next question is from the line of Vibhor Singhal from PhillipCapital.

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Vibhor Singhal, PhillipCapital (India) Pvt. Ltd., Research Division - VP & Lead Analyst of Infrastructure and IT Services [61]

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Salil, I just had one question on the manufacturing division. So our manufacturing division has reported quite strong growth in the last 6 quarters on a Y-on-Y basis, so just wanted to check any headwinds or early signs of any weakness that you might see because of the slowdown in the auto segment that we have seen, especially in the [urban] markets? Or is it like, we're not seeing anything of that sort as of now in our client base?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [62]

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Overall, we had a good run in manufacturing this quarter. It was one of the segments where we saw much higher sequential quarter-on-quarter growth. And for the year as well has had a double-digit growth. So we are feeling very good traction. Having said that, we do see some softness, particularly in the auto sector given all the trade wars, even though the -- there has been some slowdown on the trade war side, some resolution, but still there is some uncertainty. And this is also impacting the industrial segment where there's dependency.

On the other hand, when you look at aerospace, there's a huge order backlog, and there the pipeline is strong. But despite this softness -- and the softness has existed in last 1 or 2 quarters, but we have done well in this segment on the back of our wins that we have had in the recent past. So while there is softness, we feel comfortable. At least we've seen that we are in a good space in the segment, and we expect that trend to continue.

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Operator [63]

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The next question is from the line of Apurva Prasad from HDFC Securities.

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Apurva Prasad, HDFC Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [64]

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I had a question on the core services and products piece, that seems to be declining at a faster pace. So I mean, can you attribute anything to that? Is there probably increased comparative intensity in renewals?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [65]

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I didn't follow the question. You said it's about the core services? Or the decline in the core services?

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Apurva Prasad, HDFC Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [66]

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Yes, yes, the decline in the core services that seems to be increasing, which was flattish, about a couple of quarters back, that it's gone to almost 6%.

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [67]

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Right. Yes. So we talked a little bit earlier about the core services outlook. What we are seeing today is really a reflection of where we see our clients spend, our clients spend more and more on the digital portfolio. And there -- with that spend is less on the core services. Our sense is that what we see here is still much more robust in terms of our differentiation in core services, we believe, in some of our peers. Having said that, it remain, going ahead, a function of what we see in the market in terms of the increasing shift to digital, which seems to be the secular trend. And that will drive the core services.

As you rightly said, the last few quarters, we've seen something in the 0, 0-plus range or maybe a year ago low single digits. So we do need to watch it carefully and see where it goes. But we also want to reposition our portfolio towards more of our digital business, which today, as we've shared in earlier calls, has a higher margin for the clients. So definitely, we think this helps us to reposition our company as also the clients can naturally reposition.

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Operator [68]

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The next question is from the line of Sudheer Guntupalli from Motilal Oswal.

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Sudheer Guntupalli, Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [69]

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Yes, sir. If you look at the sequential growth in the top client and top 10 clients and even top 25 clients, growth looks pretty muted, especially in the top client. So growth in this quarter seems to be largely driven by clients below top 25. So any color on this will be helpful.

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [70]

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So I think in this quarter, it's -- given the furlough impact, I don't think it's right to draw any inference. But we are not really concerned about this because that's -- and the furlough impact varies from sector to sector and client to client.

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Sudheer Guntupalli, Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [71]

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Sure, sir. And second question is, we have ramped up our U.S. on-site headcount over FY '19, and we have been talking about the potential back-ended productivity improvement among these employees, which can drive up margins. Any qualitative insights into this will be helpful.

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [72]

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I think that is -- I mean that's what the exact one is we are trying to derisk our business by doing more local hiring, having a much larger local presence.

And secondly, from a cost perspective, just making sure that while we ramp up on the local side, we build a pyramid. So we have done reasonably well. As we have mentioned in the past, we have recruited more than 10,000 people and a good percentage of them are associates from campuses. And so far, the utilization of these people in projects have been decent. And it's in -- it's probably much better than what we had anticipated earlier. So we feel confident and with our unique model of having hubs where we're able to locate these associates and deliver projects quickly, and we feel reasonably confident that this model is working.

So not only are we able to derisk the risk that we have, but we are also able to contain the cost structure by building a pyramid, and I think that effort will continue. But difficult to quantify at this stage because this is early in the journey, we're just about 12, 18 months in the journey. It will take some time for this to stabilize.

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Operator [73]

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The next question is from the line of the Dipesh Mehta from SBICAP Securities.

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Dipesh Mehta, SBICAP Securities Ltd., Research Division - Information Technology Analyst [74]

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Sir, if one look at the growth number from Q1 to implied Q4 kind of thing, we are seeing almost 4% deceleration from Y-o-Y perspective in constant currency, despite a very healthy, strong deal win during this period. So if you can help us understand how one should look the momentum deceleration entering into next year? That is question one.

Second question is about in energy and utility. In earlier in your prepared remarks, you indicated about some client-specific issues. So if you can provide some more color around it, whether it is likely to sustain or it is temporary, whatever color, if you can provide something?

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Salil Satish Parekh, Infosys Limited - MD, CEO & Director [75]

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On the first part, this is Salil. As you might know, in some of our earlier calls, we'd shared that the first half of the year growth was higher year-on-year than the second half of the year, and that's really the way this is progressing. We don't see any change in the traction with clients, although there is some base effect that [brought] a few things into Q3 and then in the ongoing quarters. But we don't see any real change in getting connect with our clients at this stage.

For the following year, we'll be in a better position to comment at the end of this quarter when we come back later.

On the second part, Pravin will just give an update.

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [76]

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Yes, on the shore segment, we have had successful -- several quarters of successful double-digit growth. This is the first quarter where we have seen negative growth on a quarter-on-quarter basis and less than double-digit growth. And partly because of -- as we said earlier, it's partly because of the seasonal weakness, low impact. I mean a couple of clients, one is, we are descoping in a particular large program. And in another account, we have seen some level of insourcing. But having said that, given the traction that we have seen in the past, this is not a secular trend, and we expect the growth to come back in the coming quarters.

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Operator [77]

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The next question is from the line of James Friedman from Susquehanna.

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James Eric Friedman, Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Senior Analyst [78]

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Pravin, I just want to make sure I understand your message, your observation with regard to North American BFS. You were going kind of quick there. Are you saying it's getting better on north -- because you talked about the geographic region of BFS, is north -- what was your comment again about North America, specifically, banks?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [79]

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See, if you look at our performance this quarter, a big impact has been from Europe and rest of the world, partly higher than expected for low and slowdown, particularly in Europe due to uncertainties around Brexit. On the other hand, if you look at North American banking segment, we have seen growth. So that's what I meant. And in the last couple of quarters, we have seen growth come back in North American banking space, and that was the comment I made.

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James Eric Friedman, Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Senior Analyst [80]

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Got it. Okay, that's what I thought. And then with regard to communications, is that 5G or is that -- is it too early to conclude that? I know 5G, according to you, populates a lot of different verticals, but is that related? Or is there something else going on?

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U. B. Pravin Rao, Infosys Limited - COO & Whole-time Director [81]

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I think in communication, it's -- at least, the growth has been largely contributed by some of the large deal wins that we have had in the past. And that's contributing to the growth. We do find a lot of investment in 5G. Obviously, there's tremendous pressure for everyone to invest in 5G. We see opportunities there, but the ticket sizes are still small, most of them are in pilot cases and so on. But growth still is coming from traditional businesses as well as the digital transformation opportunities. Because in this segment, if you look at it, on one hand, there is tremendous pressure on them to invest is 5G. At the same time, the revenue per consumer is, the [TRP] is decreasing, they have to compete with digital natives and the OTT providers. So there's a significant amount of investment in digital channels and services, AI, chat bots and so on, particularly in customer service space and that's where the investment is. And today, I think the growth is coming through those investments, not necessary from 5G. While investment is there, but from a ticket price perspective, it's been small.

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Operator [82]

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Ladies and gentlemen, this was the last question for today. I now hand the conference over to Mr. Sandeep Mahindroo for his closing comments. Over to you, sir.

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Sandeep Mahindroo, Infosys Limited - VP, Financial Controller & Head of IR [83]

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Thanks, everyone, for joining us on this call. We really like your questions. Thanks for spending the time with us. We look forward to talking to you again. Have a good day.

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Operator [84]

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Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Infosys, that concludes this conference call. Thank you for joining us, and you may now disconnect your lines.