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) -- As


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gets set to report fiscal first-quarter earnings Thursday after the market close, analysts say that the software company's continued efforts to adapt its reach to the mobile device market -- coupled with a stabilizing small business sector -- should help it meet earnings expectations.

According to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, Intuit is expected to report a loss of 12 cents a share on sales of $520 million. That compares with the year-ago period when Intuit lost 10 cents a share.

Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit

"We continue to recommend Intuit given improving multiyear growth prospects driven by faster growth in consumer tax ... new offerings ...

and higher percentage of revenues from connected services," wrote Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan in a recent investor note.


, which holds an almost monopolistic grip on the small business accounting software market with its QuickBooks products, historically sees sales grow in tandem with the some 300,000 new small firms that start up each year.

But to find new growth, the 26-year old firm implemented a plan two years ago to cull a younger, more wired demographic, exemplified by acquisitions of social media firms like

and the creation of versions of its popular software for tablets and smartphones.

Investors aren't likely to see much upside from these applications until next year, after the programs launch. But until then, tech watchers can expect Intuit's revenue channels and outlook to improve modestly alongside the slowly improving small business sentiment.

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"We expect the company to provide conservative second-quarter guidance and reiterate full-year expectations given the uncertain economic backdrop," wrote Brad Zelnick, an analyst with Macquarie Equities, who said that he expects Intuit to maintain its guidance of 10%-13% year-over-year growth.

In midday trading, Intuit was up 2.38% to $48.68.

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--Written by Maggie Overfelt in New York.

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