Sales of Intuit's ( INTU) tax preparation software are off 1% so far this season, largely because of slower sales of traditional, desktop-based applications, the Mountain View, Calif., company reported Thursday. But a rebound may be in the works; sales in the last two weeks were up 4% over the same period last year. "We're pleased with the +4 percent unit growth we've seen in the last two weeks given the expected shift to a later tax season," said Brad Smith, senior vice president of consumer tax. So far this year, the company has sold 3.1 million units of tax preparation software. Sales of traditional versions of the software dropped to 982,000 from last year's $1.05 million, a decline of 7%. Intuit says that the tax season begins in late November, but sales don't begin to get brisk until January. The numbers released today reflect sales through Jan. 22. The numbers encouraged Banc of America Securities analyst Hari Srinivasan, who had
expressed some concern earlier in the month. "Given the improving momentum, we remain comfortable with our estimates for the January quarter of $643 million in revenues and $0.77 EPS," he said Thursday. (His company has an investment banking relationship with Intuit.) Smith said he believes that there will be a larger shift to Web-based software programs this year. Those sales, he said, tend to occur somewhat later in the season. If indeed the report could be interpreted as good news, it was overshadowed by a generally down day on Wall Street. In recent trading, shares of Intuit were off 31 cents, or less than 1%, to $38.75.