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Jill Ward, IntuitIntuit's professional software business, which had seen little user growth for a few years, has increased the number of customers during the last two tax seasons. This year, the number of professional customers reached 121,000, up from 119,000 for tax season 2012 and 117,000 for the 2011 tax season.
It seems likely that Intuit benefitted from software problems at TaxWise, the former TaxWorks, and TRX. However, during its earnings webcast, Intuit usually reports only the change in number of users and revenue for the professional business, not factors affecting revenue or earnings performance. The professional business is too small to be of great interest to analysts following the firm. However, during a question-and-answer session, CEO Brad Smith said that the number of extensions from professional preparers was up about 20 percent over 2013.

The company's revenue for the segment, which includes its Lacerte and ProSeries business, was up 8.8 percent over the year third quarter. However, revenue for the year-to-date, which reflects the full tax season, was on a slower pace, although revenue growth, as usual, outpaced the change in the number of users. Revenue for the nine months was $273.3 million, a 4.6-percent increase from $261 million in last year's corresponding period.

Certainly, the results appear to show the reason that Intuit rewarded Jill Ward, the SVP who heads Accounting Professionals Division, in this week's major corporate reorganization. She not only kept her job, but was given global responsibilities. Intuit did not spell those out but noted that its professional tax customers in North America "use and recommend Intuit small business offerings all around the world."

Intuit has been using its own tax professionals to give TurboTax users advice during the last two tax seasons. Smith expressed disappointment with the results. "It works well for those who used it," Smith. But he added that, "But it has not done the job in terms of helping us accelerate the shift out of tax stores and into software." He said the company had "levers" it could use to change the mix of services next year.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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