Morgan Stanley Trims H&R Block Outlook

Analyst Chris Gutek notes the tax-preparation firm's weak first-quarter results

Morgan Stanley cut its estimates on H&R Block (HRB ).

The tax-preparation and financial-services firm posted a 26-cent first-quarter loss on a 2.6% revenue decline. Analyst Chris Gutek says H&R reported weak first-quarter results, with a surprisingly large loss per share of 26 cents, vs. the Street's 5-cent loss estimate. He notes most of the downside was due to H&R's mortgage segment, as margins experienced a sharp fall. He says management is maintaining the $4.00 to $4.25 fiscal 2005 (Apr) earnings per share guidance, which seems optimistic.

Gutek cut the $3.96 fiscal 2005 earnings per share estimate to $3.86, trimmed the $4.63 fiscal 2006 earnings per share estimate to $4.56, and reduced the $5.55 fiscal 2007 earnings per share estimate to $5.49. He trimmed the $48 target to $47, and is keeping his equal-weight rating.

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