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H&R Block (HRB)

Q4 2012 Earnings Call

June 26, 2012 4:30 pm ET


Derek Drysdale - Director of Investor Relations

William C. Cobb - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director and Member of Finance Committee

Gregory J. Macfarlane - Chief Financial Officer

Jason Houseworth - President of U.S. Tax Services

Jason Houseworth


Kartik Mehta - Northcoast Research

Scott A. Schneeberger - Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division

Thomas Allen - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Michael Millman - Millman Research Associates

Vishnu Lekraj - Morningstar Inc., Research Division


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Good afternoon. My name is Lashonda, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Fiscal 2012 H&R Block Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions]

Thank you. Mr. Drysdale, Investor Relations, sir, you may begin your conference

Derek Drysdale

Thank you, Lashonda. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today to discuss our fiscal 2012 results. On the call with me today is Bill Cob, our President and CEO; and Greg Macfarlane, our CFO. Other members of our senior management team will be available during the Q&A session. They include Jeff Brown, our Chief Accounting and Risk Officer; Jason Houseworth, President of U.S. Tax Services; and Susan Ehrlich, President of Financial Services.

In conjunction with this call, we have posted today's press release and slide presentation on the Investor Relations website at

Before we begin our prepared remarks, I'd like to remind everyone that today's call will include forward-looking statements as defined under the Securities Exchange Commission Act of 1934. Such statements are based on current information and management's expectations as of this date and are not guarantees of future performance. Forward-looking statements involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. As a result, our actual outcomes and results could differ materially.

You can learn more about these risks in our Form 10-K for fiscal 2012, which we plan to file later today, as well as our other SEC filings. H&R Block undertakes no obligation to publicly update these risk factors or forward-looking statements.

With that, I'll now turn the call over to Bill

William C. Cobb

Thanks, Derek, and congratulations on your promotion to Vice President. Well deserved.

Good afternoon, everyone. As you know, we reported our fiscal 2012 results earlier today. Before we provide more color on those results, I'd like to update you on several recent developments.

First, the board and I are extremely pleased that our senior management team is now complete with Greg's arrival earlier this month. I'm glad Greg is with us today for his first earnings call at H&R Block. He brings a wealth of experience from his 19 years of managing finance from both Ceridian and various GE entities. He's already making an impact in our organization, and we are confident that he'll be a major contributor to our success in the years ahead.

We're also pleased that Jeff Brown has decided to stay with the company as our Chief Accounting and Risk Officer.

As many of you know, we also recently completed a strategic realignment that will reduce our cost structure and drive a more cohesive and seamless end-to-end client experience with the more than 22 million clients we serve in the U.S. I'm pleased to have Jason Houseworth, Amy McAnarney, Susan Ehrlich and Robert Turtledove leading our U.S. clients services under my direction. These executives all have a track record of generating strong results, and I believe their leadership and commitment to our clients will serve us well.

I'm confident that we now have the right management team in place to deliver better value for our clients and shareholders. We are excited about the opportunities we have in front of us to continue driving innovation and further improve our execution and client service.

For competitive reasons, today, we will not provide significant detail on next season's plans, but we'll give some directional insight so you can see where we're heading. We look forward to sharing our plans for next tax season with you at our annual Investor Conference in New York City on December 6.

Now in April, we announced that Sand Canyon, our discontinued mortgage subsidiary, experienced higher rep and warrant-related claim activity during the fourth quarter. We believe it's possible this activity is being driven primarily by expiring statutes of limitations. After completing its reserve analysis, Sand Canyon did not accrue additional liability for rep and warrant-related losses during the fourth quarter. As a reminder, Sand Canyon is a separate legal entity from H&R Block, and we continue to believe our legal position is strong on any potential corporate veil-piercing arguments. Greg will go into more detail on the Sand Canyon later on the call. It's also important to note that incremental claim activity has not changed our views relative to our approach to capital allocation.

Since I became CEO 13 months ago, we have returned $723 million to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends. Over that span, we repurchased and retired 36 million shares at a total cost of $515 million or $14.38 per share, including 21.3 million shares since May 1 of this year. This represents 12% of the shares that were outstanding at the end of fiscal 2011. We also increased the annual dividend last December by 33% to $0.80 per share. Altogether, I believe our actions demonstrate that we have a lot of confidence in our business and that our philosophy on capital allocation is shareholder friendly.

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