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Intuit beats Street; shares tumble after bell

Shares in the maker of income tax preparation software fall in after-hours trading even though the company reports losses lower than expected in its first fiscal quarter.

Intuit shares fell in after-hours trading even though the company reported losses lower than expected in its first fiscal quarter.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company reported a pro forma net loss of $21.4 million, or a loss of 10 cents a share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2001. That compares with a pro forma net loss of $25.3 million, or 13 cents a share, for the year-ago quarter. Revenue increased to $187.5 million from $176.9 million last year.

On that basis, Wall Street expected the company to lose 16 cents a share, the consensus estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.

"This was a dynamite quarter by every measure," said Craig Peckham, an analyst at Jefferies & Co.

The company, which makes income tax preparation software, said in a statement released after the markets closed that it usually reports a loss in its first and fourth quarters when sales of tax software are relatively dormant.

Intuit also noted that first-quarter revenue comprises 12 percent to 15 percent of annual revenue for the year.

In after-hours trading, however, the company's shares fell $4.94, or 10 percent, to $43.25, according to Island ECN, which tracks late trades on electronic networks. During regular trading hours, Intuit fell $5.19, or almost 10 percent, to $48.19.

"I'm a little surprised at the negative reaction," said Michael Hodes, an analyst at Goldman Sachs. "The metrics on the whole were better than we anticipated."

The company "is really being punished for having a high stock price, not because of the quarter," said Scott Appleby, an analyst at Robertson Stephens.

The top five most active stocks in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq today were Veritas Software, with a volume of 2.36 million shares; Ericsson, on a volume of 1.73 million; Immunex, with an exchange of 1.04 million shares; and DevX Energy and Cisco Systems, on volume of 1.03 million shares and 955,100 shares, respectively.