Why H&R Block Shares Shot Up

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of H&R Block (NYSE: HRB  ) were up as much as 10% after the tax specialist presented a bright outlook in its quarterly report last night.

So what: The tax preparer's third-quarter loss was worse than expected at an adjusted figure of a $0.22 loss instead of a $0.03 loss, due to a the start of the tax season being delayed by a week, but as a highly seasonal business, it's the current quarter that really counts. On yesterday's conference call, CEO Bill Cobb said he expected tax filings this season to grow 1% to 2%, and believed his company to be outperforming the competition. Analysts had been projecting earnings of $2.49 per share for the current quarter, but will likely bump up ahead of estimates after this report.

Now what: Through Feb. 28, total returns handled by H&R block were actually down 5.8% but that was mostly the result of IRS delays. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and the new health care law could also help drive future business for H&R Block. The company does nearly 75% of its annual sales in the tax-season quarter so it's crucial that its upcoming results live up to management's promises. You can make sure you don't miss H&R Block's next report by adding the company to your watchlist here.

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