KANSAS CITY, Mo. ( TheStreet) -- Shares of H&R Block ( HRB) jumped on high volume Friday, a day after the tax services firm posted better-than-expected quarterly results. The largest tax preparer in the U.S. said late Thursday it did not have to add to its reserves set aside for claims related to its former mortgage business, easing investor concerns. >>H&R Block Beats, Shares Gain CEO Allen Bennett said on a conference call with analysts that while investors seem to be concerned about the company's contingent loan repurchase obligations, it "seems to be subject to some speculation that is not based on fact." "We made no change to our aggregate reserve this quarter," Bennett continued. "Recent market speculation regarding potential losses does not relate back to any facts that we have observed. We have not seen any adverse change in our level of claimed payments." H&R Block set aside $243 million in the spring of 2008 for loan repurchases out of Option One. The company has not added to that level, Bennett said. "We believe our financial reserves here are adequate." Oppenheimer analyst Scott Schneeberger noted that "HRB had traded off this week on elevated volume on mortgage putback concerns," adding that "it recouped the week's losses on management addressing these concerns by providing incremental points of data." Schneeberger had an outperform rating on the stock with a price target of $12.57. H&R Block shares dipped to a fresh 52-week low on Thursday after the Treasury Department announced its new pilot program to give prepaid cards to Americans without bank accounts in order to receive their tax refunds.
Schneeberger noted that Bennett increased the adoption of H&R Block's Emerald Card, a prepaid credit card it sells to customers who don't have bank accounts. Bennett said H&R Block would work to improve customer service in an effort to reduce the number of customers who walk out during a tax preparation session. H&R Block booked a loss of $130.7 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with year-earlier losses of $133.6 million, or 40 cents per share. Excluding one-time charges related to severance costs, adjusted losses from continuing operations were $114.8 million, or 36 cents per share, beating Wall Street's expectations for a loss of 41 cents per share. Analysts typically exclude such extraordinary items when forecasting earnings estimates. H&R Block's revenue declined by $1 million, to $274.5 million. Though smaller than year-earlier sales, H&R Block's top-line figure managed to best analysts' consensus call for sales of $265.1 million. Revenue from the firm's tax services segment did edge up though losses widened in that part of H&R Block's business. P/>H&R Block shares jumped 5.9% on nearly 2.5 times their average trading volume Friday to close at $13.31. H&R Block competitors Intuit ( INTU), maker of TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service ( JTX) did not fare as well in trading Friday. Intuit shares edged up less than 0.1% while Jackson Hewitt closed lower by 2.2%. Intuit is a member of the Business Software Alliance, which earlier this week said it spent $480,000 in the second quarter to lobby the federal government on cybersecurity policy, data privacy legislation and tax issues. The BSA spend $380,000 lobbying in the first quarter, and $400,000 in the second quarter of 2009. -- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Miriam Reimer. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/miriamsmarket. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.