Financial software developer Intuit easily topped analysts' estimates in its first quarter Tuesday when it posted a loss excluding charges of $21.4 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $187.5 million.
First Call Corp. consensus expected Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) to lose 16 cents a share in the quarter.
Intuit shares finished off $5.19 to $48.19 ahead of the earnings report.
The $187.5 million in sales topped most analysts' estimates by $2 million and represents a 6 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it posted a net loss of $65.9 million, or 33 cents a share, on sales of $176.9 million.
Including a variety of charges, Intuit posted a net loss of $33.8 million, or 16 cents a share. Intuit typically reports a loss in the first quarter and big profits in the fiscal second and third quarters because of tax season.
"Intuit had another solid quarter," said CEO Steve Bennett in a prepared release. "We beat consensus estimates for pro forma profitability. Equally important, we are on track with Quicken TurboTax, QuickBooks and other new products and services launching soon."
Its online sales jumped 42 percent to $51.1 million from the year-ago quarter and now represents 27 percent of its total sales. Regarding online advertising, Intuit said it would diversify its advertising base. Currently, the company's advertisers are mostly financial services firms. Intuit officials said they would target auto manufacturers and other advertisers. The company doesn't have many pure dot-com advertisers.
In the quarter, its Quicken Loans mortgage business posted a slight operating profit as sales jumped 53 percent from the year-ago period. On a conference call, Intuit executives were bullish on the mortgage business and noted that the company was taking share from offline competitors as well as online companies such as E-Loan (Nasdaq: EELN).
Company officials said it expects sales of between $1.32 billion to $1.34 billion in the fiscal year, up 22 percent from fiscal 2000.
It sees operating income growing to between $202 million to $208 million and operating margins in the 15-percent range.
By regions, Intuit recorded sales of $10.7 million into Japan and $5.1 million into Canada. The rest of the world, excluding the U.S., checked in with sales of $2.1 million.
Last quarter, Intuit beat the Street when it posted a loss of $8.2 million, or 4 cents a share, on sales of $64.5 million.
The stock moved as high as $90 in January before falling to a low of $25.75 in May.
Analysts are expecting it to earn 81 cents a share in the fiscal year.