H&R Block ( HRB) said fourth-quarter earnings rose from a year ago, but the tax preparer posted profits that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The company earned $494.6 million, or $2.71 a share, in the latest quarter, up from $463.6 million, or $2.46 a share, in the same period last year. Revenue rose 2% to $1.92 billion from $1.88 billion last year. Fourth-quarter results included a goodwill impairment charge of 6 cents a share in the business services segment. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for earnings of $2.79 a share in the latest quarter. Block's tax segment reported $1.4 billion in revenue for the quarter, a decrease of 0.9% compared with last year. Mortgage operations saw fourth-quarter revenue rise 23.2% to $278.5 million. The business services segment reported revenue of $140.2 million, an increase of 2.3%. The company currently expects earnings growth of 13% to 18% and revenue growth of 10% to 15% for the upcoming year. Block's board approved an increase in the quarterly cash dividend from 18 cents to 20 cents a share, effective with the payment on Oct. 1. Additionally, the board authorized the company to repurchase up to 20 million of its shares, in addition to the 1.9 million remaining on its previous buyback authorization from September 2001.