Intuit hopes to tack on more online customers

SAN FRANCISCO Thu May 17, 2012 7:53pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Intuit (INTU.O), the maker of tax-preparation software TurboTax, forecast yearly results that matched Wall Street's expectations and hopes to expand its online customer base next year.

The company has to do more to create a buzz around its online tax products and sway taxpayers towards digital tax preparation, executives said.

"For this past tax season, we didn't bring as many new customers in as we had anticipated and built into our plans," Chief Financial Officer Neil Williams said in an interview.

Intuit generates most of its profit in its fiscal second and third quarters, when U.S. consumers are more likely to buy its software in the lead up to tax season.

But with a new focus on selling Internet-based subscription services -- which generates more regular business -- its revenue is more evenly spread throughout the year.

"With only a quarter left to play, and a relatively small quarter for us, we think we're on track to have a good year," Williams said.

The company, which also makes accounting software for businesses, updated its annual earnings forecast for the fiscal ending July 31. It expects earnings per share in the range of $2.92 to $2.97, up 16 to 18 percent, which was in line with analyst expectations.

It reported a rise in revenue and profit in the third quarter after a strong performance by its small-business and consumer tax products.

For the three months ended April 30, its revenue rose 5 percent to $1.9 billion. Intuit posted a net income of $734 million, or $2.42 per share, compared with $688 million, or $2.20 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding exceptional items, it earned $2.51 a share, beating estimates for $2.48, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Mountain View, California-based company reported 11 percent growth at its small-business segment while revenue in the consumer tax segment was up 3 percent this quarter.

Shares held steady at $54.30 in after-hours trading, from a close of $54.41 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Gary Hill)