H&R Block (HRB), the largest tax preparer in the U.S., posted fiscal fourth-quarter earnings after the regular trading day on Wednesday that showed the company missing revenue estimates slightly, but falling significantly short of earnings expectations.
H&R earned $664.3 million or $2.42 per share on revenue of $2.2 billion for the quarter ending April 30th. During the prior year period, the company had earned $586.1 million, or $1.99 per share on revenue of $2 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of $2.61 per share on revenue of $2.28 billion. Adjusted for items, Q4 revenue was still short of estimates at $2.54 per share.
With increasing competition from online, do-it-yourself tax services such as Intuit Inc.’s (INTU) TurboTax, the company devoted a great deal of effort and resources over the past year to develop its own online services. The company cited a more than 3 percent increase in returns filed with its desktop software.
H&R Block also implemented cost-cutting measures, shedding some 350 jobs throughout the year, and ending a contract with Wal-Mart (WMT) that saw the company shutter its offices in the mega-retailer’s outlets.
The company hired Goldman Sachs (GS) to help with a potential sell-off of its banking unit, which could make up to $400 million available. H&R repurchased 21.3 million shares at a cost of $315 million, or $14.82 per share during the fiscal year.
The company said that it prepared 0.7 percent less returns through the fiscal year, but is expected to get a boost from the passage of the White House’s signature Affordable Care Act, as well as the assumed passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
H&R’s shares closed on Wednesday at a loss of 2 percent to $28.63, and has so far been flat early in Thursday trading. Despite the substantial earnings miss, the stock is up over 56 percent year-to-date and has nearly doubled over the past 12 months.