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Tax firm reverses last year's losses

H&R Block Inc said yesterday that its third-quarter profits surged as it prepared more tax returns in the early season and saw smaller losses from discontinued operations.

The Kansas City-based company reported earnings of US$47.4 million, or 14 US cents per share, during the three months ended January 31. By comparison, H&R Block lost US$47.4 million, or 14 US cents per share, during the same period a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 10 US cents per share, on average.

Income from continuing operations jumped to US$66.8 million, or 20 US cents per share, from US$7.1 million, or 2 US cents per share. Meanwhile, losses from discontinued operations declined 64 percent to US$19.5 million, or 6 US cents per share, from US$54.5 million, or 16 US cents per share.

The discontinued operations include the H&R Block Financial Advisors unit, which was sold in November. Last year's results also included parts of the company's sale of its mortgage operation.

Revenue during the quarter rose 11 percent to US$993.5 million, surpassing analysts' forecasts of US$975.3 million.

Tax services revenue increased 15 percent to US$761.7 million as the company said that it saw a 3-percent increase in the number of tax returns prepared by its retail offices, software and online products through January 31.

Including February returns, the number of tax returns prepared declined 1.8 percent versus a year ago, which was partially offset by an 8.5-percent increase in average fees.


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