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CGI Group founder and chairman Serge Godin, left, and chief executive Michael Roach, are shown at the company’s annual meeting in 2012.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

CGI Group Inc. posted a 24.5-per-cent jump in net income in the first quarter and saw an increase in its backlog to a record $20.2-billion.

However, bookings in the quarter fell below expectations and one analyst expressed concern over sluggish new contract wins in North America.

Net earnings were $236.3-million or 74 cents per share in the quarter, up from $189.8-million or 60 cents in the year-earlier period.

The EPS result for the latest quarter fell just below analysts' consensus estimate of 75 cents.

Revenue was relatively flat at $2.5-billion, compared with $2.6-billion in the year-ago period, and below analysts' estimate of $2.66-billion.

Cash from operating activities soared 411.6 per cent to $339.2-million.

The backlog of signed orders – an indicator of future growth – stood at a record $20.2-billion at the end of December, up $1.9-billion.

Bookings of $4.3-billion in the quarter, versus consensus of $4.51-billion, were weaker than expected, Desjardins Securities analyst Maher Yaghi said in a research note Wednesday.

Weakness in North American first-quarter bookings remains "an area of concern going forward that may raise questions about the sustainability of the revenue base or potential for organic growth," he said.

CGI lost the contract to manage the 2013 U.S. health-care reform plan known as Obamacare following a disastrous launch.

"Our pipeline of new opportunities is expanding, reflecting improving market conditions and growing client recognition of the significant value created by our business enabling solutions," CGI president and chief executive officer Michael Roach said.

The Canadian IT services company said in a separate announcement that it plans to renew a stock-buyback program that expires Feb. 10, but that it had not made any repurchases of the class A shares between February, 2014, and Jan. 23, 2015.

The Montreal-based company has significantly expanded its presence in Europe with the 2012 acquisition of Logica PLC of Britain.

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