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Intuit breezes past 3Q forecasts

Internet-related business helped Intuit easily top analyst forecasts in the third quarter.

In fiscal third quarter results released after market close Tuesday, the provider of financial software and services reported pro forma net income of $47.2 million, or 73 cents a share. First Call's survey of 11 analysts predicted a profit of 70 cents.

Including revenue from the software line acquired when Intuit bought Lacerte last June, third quarter sales rose to $239.7 million, a gain of 69 percent from the year-ago comparable period, when Intuit earned $10.2 million, or 20 cents a share. Excluding Lacerte, Intuit saw revenues increase 48 percent.

The company credited the launch of QuickBooks 99 in January, along with strong growth in personal tax products and Internet e-finance services, for boosting sales.

Intuit cited PC Data statistics showing QuickBooks with an 85 percent retail market share for accounting software, a gain of 6 percentage points over the past year. The recently launched payroll service more than doubled its active customers from the previous quarter, and technical support revenue increased 177 percent.

Web-related revenue in the third quarter was 2 1/2 times larger than it was a year earlier, and now comprises more than 20 percent of Intuit's sales. Quicken.com traffic saw April page views of 180 million, up 10 percent sequentially, and up 137 percent year-over-year. The QuickenMortgage originated more than $400 million in closed loans, up more than 300 percent in one year and up 70 percent sequentially.

Tax-related software did well, as expected since the quarter included the climax of the U.S. tax filing season. Intuit sold more than 4 million personal federal tax products were sold, with more than 70 percent dollar share at retail for the tax season according to PC Data. About 1.5 million individual taxpayers filed federal returns electronically through Intuit, more than double last year.

Overseas sales continued to lag for Intuit, which saw international revenue fall 23 percent year-over-year.

Shares of Intuit gained 1 7/16 to to 77 9/16 in trading prior to the earnings report. Among 11 analysts polled by Zack's Investment Research, nine rate Intuit a "moderate buy", one recommends it as a "strong buy" and one maintains the equivalent of a "hold" rating.