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Stock Market News: H&R Blocked; American Outdoor Misses the Target

By Dan Caplinger - Mar 6, 2020 at 11:33AM

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Stocks continued to lose ground on Friday morning.

Wall Street finally saw a break in its pattern of being up one day and down the next, but investors weren't necessarily pleased about it. Further declines on Friday morning followed Thursday's steep drop, with market participants continuing to focus their attention on the coronavirus outbreak. As of 11 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.15%) was down 372 points to 25,750. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.81%) fell 53 points to 2,971, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) dropped 147 points to 8,591.

Even as the health crisis gets more serious, companies continue to release their latest financial results. Tax preparation specialist H&R Block (HRB 4.76%) didn't have the best news from the middle of tax season, and Smith & Wesson owner American Outdoor Brands (SWBI 1.09%) wasn't able to give shareholders the bull's eye they were looking to see.

Bad returns for H&R Block

Shares of H&R Block were down 11% Friday morning after the tax preparer released its fiscal third-quarter financial results. Despite seeing some signs of growth, the company wasn't able to deliver on the bottom line.

H&R Block's results for the quarter were mixed. Revenue was higher by 11%, lifted by higher tax return volumes both from the part of its business that assists taxpayers with their returns and from the company's do-it-yourself category. Acquisitions also helped to bolster H&R Block's top line. However, the company saw adjusted losses widen from year-ago levels, as H&R Block suffered from some one-time expense increases.

CFO Tony Bowen was quick to remind investors that H&R Block historically reports losses in the fiscal third quarter. That's because its tax-prep business hasn't yet kicked into gear by the end of the period on Jan. 31, and H&R Block's high season comes in the fiscal fourth quarter.

Competition remains fierce in the tax preparation industry, and even the simplification of taxes that came from tax law changes in 2018 hasn't eliminated the need for H&R Block's services. However, H&R Block will have to keep fighting hard in order to ensure that it can hold its own in the tax-prep space.

Flashlight with Smith & Wesson branding.

Image source: American Outdoor Brands.

American Outdoor Brands misfires

Shares of American Outdoor Brands plunged 27% following the outdoor goods specialist's fiscal third-quarter financial report. Despite a slight uptick in sales, the maker of Smith & Wesson firearms didn't see that success translate to its bottom line.

American Outdoor Brands reported a 3% rise in revenue during the quarter. However, all of that uptick was due to a change in accounting treatment in order to accommodate changes required by the Tax and Trade Bureau governing the timing of recognizing firearms sales. Without that change, revenue would've been down roughly 3% year over year. Moreover, American Outdoor Brands wasn't able to boost its bottom line, with adjusted net income falling 22% from the year-earlier period.

Co-CEO Mark Smith explained that retailers didn't follow through with anticipated levels of orders across many of American Outdoor Brands' product categories. Despite strong consumer demand for firearms, Smith pointed to ample inventories in retail channels that adversely affected order activity. Weakness in sales of laser sights and one retailer's move to private-label products offset strength in hunting and cutlery product sales.

American Outdoor Brands has worked to diversify its product line away from its past emphasis on firearms, and that strategy appears to be moving forward. However, shareholders aren't happy about what could be coming down the road for American Outdoor Brands. That'll make it critical for the company to keep executing well as it plots its future direction.

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Stocks Mentioned

H&R Block, Inc. Stock Quote
H&R Block, Inc.
$34.58 (4.76%) $1.57
Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. Stock Quote
Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.
$13.94 (1.09%) $0.15
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$31,928.62 (0.15%) $48.38
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$3,941.48 (-0.81%) $-32.27
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$11,535.27 (0.00%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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