Gut Feel At Intuit

Scott Cook knew when to let go. On Sept. 16, Intuit's chairman announced that the No.1 personal-finance software maker will sell its money-losing ISC electronic bill-payment subsidiary so it can refocus on the Internet. CheckFree will pay $268 million in stock for the unit, which Intuit bought two years ago for $8 million.

Changing course isn't what most technology execs do well. But the bill-paying business clearly was problematic. ISC provided a private network for users of Intuit's Quicken software to pay bills and bank electronically. Banks balked at Intuit as middleman, however, and analysts guess it lost more than $20 million on the business in two years. Such transactions now are better suited to the Net, anyway. provided a private network for users of Intuit's Quicken software to pay bills and bank electronically. Banks balked at Intuit as middleman, however, and analysts guess it lost more than $20 million on the business in two years. Such transactions now are better suited to the Net, anyway. The result: Intuit shares have risen 10% since the news, to $33. With new software expected next fall, profits could hit $26 million in the fiscal year ending July 31, from a 1996 loss of $20 million. "They're taking a golden opportunity to reverse course," says Bear Stearns analyst Peter Rogers. "I wish more tech companies would do this." The result: Intuit shares have risen 10% since the news, to $33. With new software expected next fall, profits could hit $26 million in the fiscal year ending July 31, from a 1996 loss of $20 million. "They're taking a golden opportunity to reverse course," says Bear Stearns analyst Peter Rogers. "I wish more tech companies would do this."

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