Kansas City, Mo. H&R; Block Inc. said Friday its 2004 earnings could top the company's previous target despite an unexpected decline in the number of people who sought help preparing their taxes.
Kansas City, Mo.-based H&R; Block, the nation's largest tax preparer, said it expected fiscal-year earnings at the high end or above its previous guidance range of $3.65 to $3.85 a share. It expects earnings for the year to be 20 percent higher than fiscal 2003.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call predicted earnings of $3.86 a share for fiscal 2004, which ended Friday.
Mark Ernst, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, attributed the anticipated growth to strong earnings in areas where H&R; Block previously had used franchises rather than its own offices, good results from its digital tax solutions business and mortgage division, and its ability to control costs in its tax division.
H&R; Block's preliminary results for the tax season show fees from tax preparation and related services increased 4.8 percent to $2.2 billion.