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H&R Block Inc. Tumbles on Weak Tax Season

By Timothy Green - Apr 27, 2016 at 1:15PM

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The tax-preparation specialist suffered from a decline in returns volume, both assisted and through its software products.

Image Source: H&R Block.

What: Shares of H&R Block (HRB 0.61%) slumped on Wednesday following the company's announcement of weak U.S. tax results. At 12:15 p.m. EST, the stock was down about 14%.

So what: H&R Block released its U.S. tax results through April 19 on Tuesday evening, reporting a 5.8% decline in assisted returns prepared. Much of this decline occurred during the early part of the tax season, and it was partially offset by price increases. Tax returns prepared through H&R Block's software products declined by 2.6%, with the drop driven by aggressive competition, according to the company.

Intuit (INTU 4.63%), through its TurboTax product, reported a strong tax season on Tuesday, with TurboTax online units growing 15% year over year. Intuit raised its full-year tax-revenue-growth guidance to a range of 8% to 9% as a result of this strong performance, up from a previous range of 5% to 7%. According to Intuit Executive Vice President and Consumer Tax Group General Manager Sasan Goodarzi, 2016 marks the third year in a row that TurboTax has gained significant market share.

H&R Block's weakness led the company to announce a plan to streamline operations, an effort which will include a realignment of its field operations, and a major cost-cutting program. H&R Block's management team is being shuffled, and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company plans to lay off 250 workers, roughly 13% of its workforce. Fiscal 2016 results, along with more details on the company's restructuring plan, will be announced on June 9th.

Now what: H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb made it clear that this plan doesn't change the long-term picture:

I believe in the future of H&R Block and, as you will hear from me on June 9th, this season does not change our long-term outlook for the company. We are focused on developing an aggressive 2017 program to appeal to a broad segment of tax preparation clients. This will include a more compelling value proposition, anchored by H&R Block's expert tax preparation services, that is aimed at client growth and continued generation of strong free cash flow and superior returns on capital.

With a big drop in the stock price on Wednesday, investors don't seem so sure.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Sasan Goodarzi as Intuit's CEO. His position with the company has been corrected above. The Fool regrets the error.

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Intuit Inc. Stock Quote
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