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Intuit Posts Better-than-Expected Quarter

But the tax-and-accounting software maker says earnings may not meet Wall Street expectations.

Updated from 4:32 p.m. EST

Accounting-and-tax-software maker


(INTU) - Get Free Report

reported fiscal first-quarter results Wednesday that beat Wall Street estimates, but cautioned that results in the current quarter could come in short of expectations.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit reported a GAAP net loss of $54 million, or 27 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Oct. 31. That compares with a net loss of $54.7 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding charges, Intuit said it had a pro forma net loss of $47.9 million, or 24 cents a share, in the first quarter, compared to a pro forma net loss of $44.5 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting Intuit to lose 27 cents a share in the first quarter.

Intuit's revenue rose 14% from a year earlier, to $242.5 million. Analysts were expecting revenue of $231.9 million.

Intuit typically reports a loss in the first and fourth quarters. The company generates the bulk of its revenue and profit in its second and third quarters, driven by sales of its TurboTax software.

Looking ahead, Intuit said it expects to post pro forma earnings of 66 cents to 71 cents a share and GAAP earnings of 63 cents to 68 cents a share in the second quarter, on revenue of between $615 million and $640 million. Analysts' estimates called for pro forma earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $627.2 million.

For the full fiscal year 2004, Intuit reaffirmed previous guidance. That called for pro forma earnings of $1.57 to $1.67 a share on revenue ranging from $1.85 billion to $1.95 billion. Analyst estimates peg full-year earnings at $1.62 a share on $1.88 billion in revenue.

Linda Drake, a portfolio manager at Holt-Smith and Yates Advisors in Madison, Wisc., said there may be some upside to those numbers for a couple of reasons. First, the company could benefit from some major tax-code changes, including changes to the tax brackets and changes to the way dividends are treated.

And second, Intuit executives said on a conference call they plan a national advertising campaign this year, following ad trials last year that the company called "very successful." Her firm holds shares of Intuit.

Shares of Intuit closed up 21 cents, or 0.5%, to $46.38. In after-hours trading Wednesday, shares climbed to $47.45.