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Intuit hammered on lackluster quarter

Investors pounded shares of Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) Friday after the company reported that sales growth slowed in the second quarter. The company met the consensus analyst estimate.

In early trading Friday, Intuit was down 13 1/4 to 59 1/16, or 18 percent.

After market close Thursday, the financial software vendor and Web finance portal operator reported fiscal quarter net income of $91.4 million, or 44 cents per share, excluding special charges. That was the figure predicted by First Call's survey of 15 analysts.

Including acquisition-related costs, Intuit earned $57.3 million, or 27 cents per share. Net income was up only slightly from a year ago as the company invested heavily on its Internet e-finance properties.

The company still expects 20 percent operating income growth in 2000, CFO Greg Santora said.

Revenue growth was disappointing. Second quarter revenue rose to $425.5 million, a 14 percent gain year-over-year, a nice pop, but well below last year's growth of 46 percent.

The growth rate was slower than in the first quarter, the company said, because of higher marketing and price cuts for Quicken TurboTax; tax bundling programs that forced Intuit to defer recognition of $25 million to $30 million of revenue related to electronic filing; closing certain branch offices, and thus lowering mortgage revenue, of the recently acquired Rock Financial.

Aside from a tough interest rate environment, Intuit has had to fend off price competition from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) among others.

TurboTax held a 70 percent retail market share through the end of January, Intuit said. Quickbooks generated more than 80 percent of all accounting software retail sales by revenue, the company said. Quicken revenue improved more than 50 percent.

Internet revenue of $89.1 million represented a 160 percent gain year-over-year. Quicken.com's visitors rose to 7 million in January from 4.5 million in July.>