Is Intuit an Undiscovered Cloud Play?

Year to date, shares of Intuit (INTU) are up 20%. As small businesses shift their accounting and tax preparation to the cloud, Intuit is poised to benefit from the transition.

On Sept. 21, Intuit held an analyst day. It laid out an ambitious plan to shift the traditional desktop user to its cloud services. QuickBooks Online is growing fast, and the company is building a strong cloud services business. Management believes it can sign up between 2 million and 2.2 million QBO subscribers by the end of fiscal 2017.

Last week, Intuit reported first-quarter fiscal 2017 results. The company earned 6 cents per share, 3 cents better than the consensus analyst estimate. Revenues rose 9.1% to $778 million, vs. the $754 million estimate.

The company ended the quarter with 1.77 million QuickBooks Online subscribers, up 41%.

For the year, the company foresees revenue of $5 billion to 5.01 billion, vs. the consensus estimate of $5.05 billion and earnings per share between $4.30 and $4.40 per share.

Last year, product revenue grew 11.2% to $1.29 billion, while the services business was up 6% to $3.4 billion. With the transition to the cloud, product revenue could be up 23% this year.

Management said second-quarter revenue is estimated to grow between 13.2% and 15.4%, but analysts suggest Intuit is stuck at just 8% growth.

If management can hit its goal, Intuit could end the year with top-line growth of 23%, a total gross margin of 84%, an operating margin of 33% to 34%, and earnings per share growth of 14% to 15%.

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