Bangalore: Analysts at brokerage firms on Wednesday said the transition and exit of key managers at Infosys and Wipro and economic slowdown have separated the leaders from laggards as IT industry is nearly halfway into 2011-12 financial year.

"A clear separation between the leaders and laggards is emerging with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Cognizant racing ahead of Infosys and Wipro. This polarization becomes even more visible during a slowdown," said an analyst at a multinational brokerage firm.

JP Morgan analysts Viju K George and Amit Sharma wrote in a report last week that the downturn is causing further separation among the top four technology firms.

Analysts further said the transition period at Infosys and Wipro have given an opportunity to TCS and Cognizant to increase their lead.

"Infosys and Wipro are no longer the leaders because there is a transition at the top level ... Banker KV Kamath has just assumed charge at Infosys and Wipro has sole boss TK Kurien after the company decided to abandon its Co-CEO model," said another analyst at a brokerage firm.

In 2001-02, for instance, TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant and HCL broke away from the pack and formed the new top order. Later, the 2008 Lehman crisis led to Wipro falling behind and Cognizant surging ahead, the analysts pointed.

Earlier this month, Citi and Goldman downgraded India's top IT stocks in what they described as a response to worsening macro-economic situation in the world's largest outsourcing markets, the US and Europe.

Goldman Sachs predicted that TCS and Cognizant will grow sales up to 2013 by 20 percent and 27 percent respectively. For Infosys and Wipro it was 16 per cent and 14 percent. Over the past five quarters, TCS and Cognizant have grown revenues faster than Infosys or Wipro.

During the quarter which ended in June, while TCS and Cognizant grew revenues by 7.5 percent and 8.3 percent, Infosys could achieve only 4.3 percent and Wipro 0.5 percent.

While Infosys' new CEO SD Shibulal has warned investors about early signs of delays in outsourcing decision-making by US customers, Cognizant's chief operating and financial officer Gordon Coburn has not seen unusual changes in decision-making or sales cycles with either new customers or existing customers, according to media reports.

(Agencies)