What's with tax advisors these days? They've turned into a bunch of flip-floppers.
Within a few hours of each other, tax software giant (and Motley Fool Inside Value pick) Intuit
There the similarities end. H&R Block's news was of the "bad" kind; it further lowered its "preliminary and unaudited" report of a $0.22-per-share loss for the quarter ended Oct. 31. Based on an "analysis of potential losses associated with hurricanes Katrina and Rita," higher state taxes, and a "change in mortgage servicing rights valuation" (whatever that means), the company concluded that it actually lost $0.26 per share in fiscal Q2. Based on the new number, H&R Block therefore saw its losses widen by 62% year over year.
In contrast, Intuit had good news, though some of it wasn't immediately obvious. The company has successfully sold off its Information Technology Solutions (ITS) division to private equity firm TA Associates. The princely sale price of $200 million will add a nice chunk of change to Intuit's already cash-heavy balance sheet (bringing net cash to roughly $900 million) and add $40 million in profits to the firm's fiscal Q2 profits, pre-tax.
After tax, roughly $0.13 more per share should fall to the firm's bottom line. Intuit now expects this "one-time gain" to boost its fiscal Q2 profit to somewhere between $0.90 and $1.03 per share, up from the previous estimate of $0.80 to $0.90. Its full-year guidance now stands at $2.12 to $2.20 per share, up from $1.99 to $2.07.
Here's the less obvious bit. Selling ITS at a profit frees Intuit to focus, focus, focus on what it does best: tax-preparation and money management software for individuals and small businesses. If the company can now deploy its capital to, er, capitalize exclusively on its strengths, investors may well find that the unloading of ITS ultimately yields better profits from Intuit's core operations for many years to come.
Since its first recommendation in the Motley Fool Inside Value newsletter nine months ago, Intuit has already risen nearly 47% against a less than 6% gain for the S&P 500. If you like buying undervalued stocks before they rise, why aren't you a subscriber? Click here and take a free trial for a full month.
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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above.