Intuit ( INTU) raised profit guidance for its third quarter and year, saying its tax-preparation software is selling better than expected.

Excluding items, Intuit expects to earn $1.64 to $1.68 a share in the third quarter ending April 30. That compares to the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of $1.66 a share. On a bottom-line basis, Intuit sees third-quarter earnings of $1.56 to $1.60 a share, up from old guidance of $1.54 to $1.58 a share.

The company sees revenue of $880 million to $900 million, up 5% to 8% from a year ago. Analysts were expecting sales of $876.4 million in the quarter.

Adding the third-quarter upside to the full-year forecast, Intuit expects to earn $2.29 to $2.34 a share before items, up from old guidance of $2.27 to $2.32 a share. Sales should be $2.24 billion to $2.28 billion. Analysts are forecasting earnings of $2.31 a share on sales of $2.25 billion in the year.

Through March 4, Intuit said, season-to-date TurboTax federal unit sales increased 16% from a year ago, compared with a gain of 9% at this time last year. Intuit said it now expects 2006 Consumer Tax revenue to grow 12% to 15% over fiscal 2005, up from prior guidance for growth of 10% to 12%.

The stock rose $1.62, or 3.3%, to $50.13.

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