Ahead Of The Bell: Intuit Updates On Tax Season

By The Associated Press

Intuit Inc. reported tax season data so far that looks "ok, not great," according to a Jefferies analyst who said the software maker appears to be planning for a strong finish to the year based on its forecast for consumer tax revenue growth.

The Mountain View, Calif., company said Monday sales of its TurboTax units, not counting Turbo Tax Free File Alliance, rose 1 percent compared to last year.

Intuit's main products include QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax, focusing on small business management, payroll processing, personal finance and tax preparation. The company said sales of its TurboTax federal units were flat year over year, but it also noted that tax season started later this year than it normally does.

The Internal Revenue Service began accepting returns Jan. 30, an eight-day delay necessitated by a deal Congress and the White House reached in January on legislation that avoided steering the economy off the so-called fiscal cliff. Intuit also said last month that its fiscal second quarter revenue fell 3 percent due to the late legislation that would result in some sales shifting to its fiscal third quarter.

Company officials said Monday in a statement that they've seen good growth since Jan. 30, and they are expecting a strong end to the season, with millions of Americans still needing to file their taxes.

Analyst Ross MacMillan said in a research note the company launched its customary, end-of-season price hike March 22, about six days earlier than last year, and that should help revenue growth. He maintains a "hold" rating on the shares and a $66 price target.

Intuit will provide another update on its performance in April, at the end of tax season.

Its shares finished at $64.84 per share on Monday. They have traded in a 52-week range of $53.38 to $68.41.

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