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H&R Block Rises on ‘Significant’ Increase in Income Tax Returns

H&R Block Swings to a Loss
An H&R Block logo hangs in an H&R Block office in New York. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

H&R Block Inc., the biggest U.S. tax preparer, climbed in extended trading after reporting fiscal third-quarter revenue that exceeded most analysts’ estimates and an increase in online filings.

The shares advanced 6.1 percent to $16.12 as of 4:41 p.m. in New York. They had declined 8.9 percent in the past year.

Net loss for the three months ended Jan. 31 was $12.7 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with a profit of $50.6 million, or 15 cents, in the same period a year earlier, the Kansas City, Missouri-based company said today in a statement.

H&R Block, led by Chief Executive Officer Alan Bennett, 60, stepped up marketing to recapture market share lost to Intuit Inc., the maker of TurboTax, and to counter the firm’s inability to offer clients refund-anticipation loans this year.

“After a slow start to the tax season, the company has seen significant growth in returns prepared and tax-preparation revenues during February,” H&R Block said in the statement.

Revenue for the quarter fell 8.9 percent to $851.5 million, from $934.9 million in the same period a year earlier. The average estimate of five analysts in a Bloomberg survey was $849.2 million. H&R Block deferred $11.9 million of revenue into the fiscal fourth quarter because of U.S. delays in accepting some tax forms, the company said in the statement.

Total retail returns climbed 17 percent in February and digital returns increased 13 percent through Feb. 28, the company said.

H&R Block has been buffeted by a loss of market share to Intuit Inc., the maker of TurboTax, and a decision by U.S. regulators that prevented the company from offering clients refund-anticipation loans, or RALs, this year.

“Despite the competitive disadvantage of not being able to offer RALs, we believe we gained share in both retail and online within the highly competitive early season,” Bennett said in the statement.

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