ICON, the global provider of outsourced development services based in Ireland, saw its operating income flatten out to US$26.8 million or 12.2% of revenues in the first quarter ended 31 March.

That compared with operating income of US$26.9 million, also 12.2% of revenues, in the first quarter of 2009. Net revenues came in at US$219.1 million for the latest quarter, against US$219.8 million in the same period last year.

Diluted earnings per share (EPS) were ahead of Q1 2009 and in line with analysts’ estimates. EPS for the three months to March were US$0.37 versus US$0.35 for the year-before quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expected net revenues of US$225.3 million for the latest quarter.

ICON chief executive officer Peter Gray said the year had “started solidly”, as expected.
“Following lower booking levels and higher cancellations last year, we had indicated in our February guidance that we believed growth would re-emerge in the second half of 2010,” he noted.

While the company remains cautious, “with net bookings of US$265 million for the quarter, and a pipeline of new opportunities that continues to solidify, we believe the conditions for a return to growth are coming into place,” Gray added. “We are pleased with our continued good cash generation and are confident we have the balance sheet to support our growth plans.”

Net new business wins for the first quarter of 2010 amounted to US$265 million, representing a book-to-bill ratio of 1.2.